Conservative candidate backs Ajax mine
Kamloops’ latest contender in the provincial election campaign fully supports the controversial Ajax mine proposal.
Ed Fehr, the B.C. Conservative nominee in Kamloops-North Thompson, said he supports the copper and gold mine KGHM Ajax wants to build just south of Aberdeen.
“I’ve been a miner for a number of years and when I think about the Ajax mine — and I’m getting a lot of feedback from the Filipino community — I feel like that’s a very good thing,” he said.
Fehr, who also supports the Enbridge Northen Gateway pipeline proposal between Alberta and Kitimat, believes the mine will be a job creator for Kamloops.
“And I believe the environment is not going to be affected like some have said,” he added.
“I believe all the homework has been done for Ajax in regards to the environment.”
It’s a stronger stance than most candidates in the city’s two ridings have taken.
Todd Stone, Kamloops-South Thompson’s B.C. Liberal candidate, told KTW he is also inclined to support the project — but only if Ajax’s environmental assessment checks out.
“I think it would be a huge economic opportunity for Kamloops, with hundreds of family-supporting jobs,” he said.
But, he added, those jobs can’t come at an environmental cost.
“The bar that Ajax has to meet when it comes to impacts on water and air and dust and light and endangered species, the requirements are very, very high, especially because of how close it is to the city.”
Stone’s B.C. Conservative opponent, Peter Sharp, takes a similar view.
“If it’s environmentally not a safe thing to do for our community, I’m against the mine,” Sharp told KTW, adding that, in reading reports and documents put out by the mine, he can see KGHM is concerned about noise and dust pollution and other environmental issues.
Kathy Kendall, Kamloops-North Thompson’s B.C. NDP candidate, is trying to keep an open mind on Ajax.
“I’m finding particularly as you head up towards Barriere and Clearwater, lots of families where the breadwinner is working in the oil sands, they’d like jobs close to home to keep their families together,” she said.
However, Kendall said, she also has concerns about the environmental impact of the project and doesn’t think the review process the mine is undergoing is as rigorous as it could be.
“We deserve the highest standards of review and we didn’t get that, the full-panel review. I think the Liberals should have pushed for that,” she said.
Tom Friedman, her NDP counterpart in Kamloops-South Thompson, also raised concerns about the environmental-review process.
“We have some doubts about whether the current process is as effective as it might be for our community and we need to make sure our community is protected,” he said.
Friedman pointed to a 2011 report by the Auditor General, which found the provincial Environmental Assessment Office isn’t doing enough to ensure mines and other major projects are complying with regulations after receiving environmental certificates.
“So, we have to ensure that the environmental assessment that’s done is going to be rigorous, particularly given the location of the proposed project,” he said.