Eco Club petition to be presented to city council

A couple roasts hotdogs over a campfire at Jacko Lake in January 2016. (FILE PHOTO)

The TRUSU Eco Club’s petition against the proposed Ajax Mine is nearing the club’s goal of 1,000 student signatures. The club intends to take their petition to Kamloops City Council when they hit their target, which they expect to do by the last day of classes this semester. Last week, they had approximately 700 signatures.

Eco Club coordinators Logan Dafoe and Valerie Law originally started the petition to make students aware.

“Everyone knows the topic is out there and it’s been splitting the community for so long. We want the conversation to be had,” Dafoe said.

“Our whole group has given solid efforts towards this project, and it’s great that our work is paying off,” Law said.

On May 4, 2016, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) suspended the 180-day review timeline process for the proposed mine. In documents released on March 30, 2017, the BCEAO announced that they would be lifting the suspension and will resume the review process on day 108 of the 180 day process. The timeline has also been extended by an additional 110 days and will allow for an additional public comment period.

This news is very promising to the Eco Club and their petition efforts, as the extended timeline and renewed public comment period brings new relevance and legitimacy to their mission as they move towards their presentation to city council.

Law feels hopeful for the community and the city councillors.

“Four of the nine [city councillors] have already stated that they would sign against the mine, so the info from the study will help the others make their decisions. Information is what is most important about this, having all sides of the argument presented is what will allow the proper decision to be made, and that’s what [the BCEAO] is doing”.

On April 1 more than 30 organizations across B.C. and Canada came together and announced their support of the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation’s (SSN) decision to withhold its “free, prior and informed consent” to the development of the lands and resources at the site of the future mine.

Signatories included the David Suzuki Foundation, the Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association Human Rights Committee, and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, among many other First Nations and environmentalist groups.

The reason for the support and decision of withholding their approval is that the mine “would destroy part of Jacko Lake and irremediably affect ‘Pípsell,’ an area described as a ‘cultural keystone,’” according to the SSN.

For Law and Dafoe, it’s a huge step in the right direction.

“It’s like small pieces of a big puzzle coming together,” Law said.