An attempt by a Kamloops councillor to spur change in B.C.’s mining rules fell flat on Tuesday, with opposing councillors citing provincial jurisdiction and fear of appearing anti-business.
Coun. Denis Walsh made a notice of motion that council ask the Union of B.C. Municipalities to request that the province launch an advisory committee with various affected parties to determine how to modernize B.C.’s mining laws, including the Mines Act and the Mineral Tenure Act.
The idea stems back to the Ajax mine debate, with Walsh’s motion calling for “common sense restrictions on where mineral claims and mining leases are allowed.”
Ajax was rejected by senior levels of government, but had the copper and gold project been approved, it would have been located two kilometres from the Aberdeen neighbourhood.
“From my point of view, council should have at least some form of input on something that close to your city,” Walsh said.
Coun. Mike O’Reilly opposed after speaking to the Mining Association of B.C. He said the province announced last month #20 million over the next three years to improve oversight, management and authorization of mining titles and permits.
“I believe the provincial government is working on these things,” O’Reilly said.
Coun. Arjun Singh also opposed the motion. While he said the effort comes from a “good place,” he added an unintended consequence would be the city developing an anti-business reputation.
“I think that the Association of Mining Exploration, if we pass this, will see us as a business-unfriendly council,” Singh said. “I think we have to think about that.”
Singh sat on a provincial environmental assessment advisory committee last spring and said the city could have an enhanced role via provincial legislation.
Also at issue among councillors was Walsh’s wording of “common sense,” which was criticized for being too ambiguous.
Council voted 6-3 to defeat the motion, with Mayor Ken Christian and councillors O’Reilly, Singh, Dieter Dudy, Sadie Hunter and Bill Sarai opposed. Councillors Walsh, Kathy Sinclair and Dale Bass voted in favour.
Sinclair said given the ease of staking claims in the province, she supports a review, arguing it is healthy to look at regulations for certain industries.
Council last year sent a resolution to the Union of BC Municipalities to request from the province input on mining projects within 10 kilometres of municipal boundaries and regional districts. That resolution did not pass at the UBCM level.