Ajax, pot on lips of those at UBCM
Concerns about the proposed Ajax mine will get another airing at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention running this week in Victoria.
Mayor Peter Milobar told KTW the city is set to meet with Environment Minister and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake and Rich Coleman, minister of energy and mines, during the week-long conference to discuss the copper and gold mine proposed south of Aberdeen.
“With Terry, it’s a good opportunity — not that he’s unaware or anything — but it gives you a chance to be right with the staff as well, that you wouldn’t normally see, and have that discussion,” said Milobar.
The Ajax discussions will focus on ways the mine could impact the city that Kamloops council wants to see studied as part of the environmental approval process.
“It’s really about ensuring that the uniqueness of the location and the concerns that we’re hearing across the board — and, certainly, everyone on council has had and voiced those same concerns — are properly addressed and looked at as we move through the process, from dust to noise to light impact to socio-economic,” Milobar said.
Also on the agenda is a meeting with Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid regarding upgrades to the Royal Inland Hospital.
This summer, the province committed $80 million to build new parking facilities and extra clinical space at RIH for what Premier Christy Clark has called the “first phase” of a major renovation of the hospital.
A new surgical tower and more clinical space have also been planned for RIH, but not yet funded.
Milobar said hospital discussions at UBCM will focus on “the potential for the surgical tower as phase two.”
The city also has two resolutions before UBCM’s approximately 1,500 delegates this week.
One calls on the province to toughen its anti-smoking legislation and ban smoking on playgrounds, beaches, park and public events.
The resolution also seeks to increase the distance smokers must stand from doors and windows to 7.5 metres (25 feet).
The other resolution encourages provincial and federal governments to supply accessible ballots for the visually impaired at all polling stations during elections, as Kamloops did in its last municipal election.
However, the most high-profile resolution at this year’s conference is likely one proposed by Metchosin and endorsed by the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities.
It calls for the decriminalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, calling current anti-pot efforts “failed policy which has cost millions of dollars in police, court, jail and social costs.”
A vote on the resolution is expected on Wednesday, Sept. 26, but a pre-convention debate on decriminalization held by a panel of legal and medical experts on Monday, Sept. 24, attracted a crowd of UBCM delegates — including Kamloops Coun. Nancy Bepple, who live-tweeted much of the discussion.
The convention runs to Friday, Sept. 28.
In addition to Milobar and Bepple, Kamloops councillors Donovan Cavers, Ken Christian, Marg Spina and Arjun Singh are attending.
KAMLOOPS RESOLVES . . .
This week, Kamloops has two resolutions up for consideration at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention In Victoria.
While elected officials debate resolutions calling on the province to get tougher on smokers and provide accessible ballots for visually impaired voters, KTW takes you on a tour of resolutions past:
• 1987: Kamloops asks the province to add a designation for skateboard to the Motor Vehicle Act, “which allows municipalities to regulate or prohibit the use of skateboards and that police be authorized to impound skateboards.”
RESULT: The province agreed to make the change and anti-skateboarding bylaws came into being.
• 1999: The city asks the province to boost the maximum fine communities can slap on the owner of a vicious dog under the Municipal Act. At the time, cities could only hit the owner of an aggressive dog with a $500 ticket. Kamloops wanted it to be $2,000.
RESULT: The resolution was not admitted for debate. However, that section of the Municipal Act (now the Local Government Act) was eventually repealed.
• 2006: A Kamloops resolution urged the UBCM to pressure Victoria and Ottawa into adding an eco-fee to all plastic bags issued at stores across the country. Proceeds from the fee would go to a green initiative fund to promote or fund other environmentally friendly programs.
RESULT: The resolution is not admitted for debate.
• 2008: The city urges the province to ban the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides.
RESULT: The province pledged to “studying the regulatory initiatives of other jurisdictions,” Ontario having just passed a similar ban at the time.
A legislative committee report submitted in May of 2012 found no grounds to enact a ban, however, citing a lack of scientific evidence.
A Kamloops-specific cosmetic pesticide ban proposed by Coun. Donovan Cavers also failed to garner enough support to become law not long after the report was issued.