Ajax forum draws divisive questions

Over 350 Kamloops residents came out to ask questions about the proposed mine

A public forum about the proposed Ajax mine drew a mix of support and opposition from over 350 Kamloops residents on Monday, Sept. 28.

The meeting, held in the Coast Canadian Hotel ballroom, gave people the opportunity to have their questions and concerns about the proposed mine project added to the public record and presented to the independent consultants who will be reviewing the project on the city’s behalf.

The entire city council was present to hear questions from the public, and Mayor Peter Milobar moderated the meeting.

The questions collected were added to the list of 211 questions already compiled by the city. Questions already collected include everything from noise concerns and disaster planning to disruption of dark sky conditions at the Stake Lake Observatory.

Both supporters and those in opposition to the mine were out in force. Supporters wore green cards that read “support Ajax” pinned to their shirts.

Questions from the audience were diverse, ranging from thinly veiled messages of support to insightful questions about mine procedure. One Kamloops resident asked if Ajax would publish a blasting schedule so residents could prepare themselves. Another asked if a smelter would be constructed on the property.

The audience at the Ajax mine forum on Sept. 28. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

The audience at the Ajax mine forum on Sept. 28. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Concerns were also raised about an increase in traffic on Lac Le Jeune Road and the performance bond Ajax would have to supply. Local realtor Eric Putoto raised concerns about diminishing property values in Kamloops as a result of the mine.

Among the first to speak was TRU electrical apprentice Sierra Legaut. Legaut spoke in favour of the mine, particularly about the jobs it has the potential to create for TRU apprentices, and asked council “Why are we pushing revenue and resources away?”

TRU associate mathematics professor Sean McGuiness asked if there would be an assessment of the mine’s effects on TRU. McGuiness claimed that international students and others who chose TRU for Kamloops’ beautiful scenery might be put off by having a mine so close to town, leading to a loss in revenue for TRU.