No independent-panel review of Ajax mine proposal
There will be no federal independent-panel review of the proposed Ajax mine near Kamloops.
Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar was given the decision following a meeting with federal Environment Minister Peter Kent on Thursday, Dec. 1.
Milobar said Kent wasn't prepared to approve a panel review and wants to hear more information.
Instead, the minister has agreed to visit Kamloops and the mine site in the new year.
Milobar couldn't say whether a panel review could be approved at a later date.
"His [Kent] indication to us was that he's well aware of the project, he's well aware of people's concerns in the area . . . at this time there's not enough triggers within their framework of significant federal concern for him to issue a federal-panel review," the mayor told KTW.
"But, as more information becomes available, that may change."
Milobar also noted the minister suggested the comprehensive review in which the mine proposal is undergoing is just as strong as the panel review.
In October, Kamloops council passed a resolution to ask the federal environment minister to set up an independent joint-panel review for the mine.
The mine is undergoing a comprehensive study that includes a working group.
The majority of council voted in favour of asking for the review but, at the time, Milobar wasn’t ready to ask for the new process.
Despite not getting the answer he was seeking on behalf of the city, Milobar still feels the trip was a success.
He said the contingent, which included Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative MP Cathy McLeod, Sen. Nancy Greene-Raine, David Duckworth, the city’s director of public works and sustainability, and Thompson-Nicola Regional District Area J director Renee Elliott, brought information and maps to help the minister get a better understanding of the local issues.
Milobar also noted the group met with high-level officials from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to discuss the project.
"None of that would have happened had we not come out," he said.
But, it was not the answer members of the Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA), a group opposed to the proposed mine, were seeking.
KAPA member Ruth Madsen is disappointed by the minister's decision, adding she believed the panel review would be granted once local politicians decided to visit Ottawa to ask.
"I think it's only fair we get the best available for such a huge thing," she said.
Madsen does consider Kent's decision to visit Kamloops somewhat of a positive and she is hoping he will meet with the group to hear its concerns.
However, she does question whether his trip to the city is a stalling tactic to ensure time runs out to authorize a panel review.
"We don't have a lot of trust in the government," Madsen said.
Some KAPA members also questioned whether Milobar would lobby hard enough on the city's behalf, given his stand on the panel review.
But the mayor dismissed the suggestion.
"I think we've done as much as we could do," Milobar said.
"If people don't want to take you on face value based on a track record of actually doing the job properly, I don't know what I could say that's going to change their mind now."