In response to Peter Kent's Letter to Numerous Citizens of Kamloops Regarding a Panel Review

Posted by Michael Hewitt on November 29th, 2011 6:12pm

A number of concerned Kamloops residents have written Federal Environmental Minister Peter Kent regarding a Federal Review Panel for the KGHM Ajax Mine. After receiving a response from the Minister regarding these letters (click here to read it), Michael Hewitt, a member of KAPA sent the following response.    


The Hon. Peter Kent
Minister of Environment
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ont.
K1A 0E6

November 28, 2011


Dear Minister:


Re: Proposed Ajax Mine

Thank you for your recent response to my earlier letter in which I requested that you refer the KGHM Ajax mine proposal to a federal review panel.

I note with interest your statement that "Under the Act I have the discretion to refer a project to a review panel when, taking into account the implementation of any mitigation measures, the Project may cause significant adverse environmental effects, or where public concerns related to such effects warrant a referral." Enclosed is a 3D map of the mine which clearly shows that 50% of the mine site is within city limits, that the closest residences are less than 1 kilometre away from the mine site, and that the nearest elementary school only 2 kilometres away from the mine site. Kamloops is downwind and downslope from the mine site which means that any mitigation measures would have to be extreme if the residents of Kamloops are to be protected from adverse effects. The environmental impact of such a huge mine is certain to be significant, not only for the Kamloops city area, but also on the Thompson River and Kamloops Lake.

Mr. Peter Milobar, Mayor of Kamloops, and Ms. Cathy McLeod M.P. are scheduled to meet with you on December 1, 2011, at which time Mr. Milobar will request that you refer the KGHM Ajax project to a review panel. Not only did the city council vote in favour of such a referral, but every candidate who ran in the recent municipal election supported the highest level of environmental assessment for the KGHM Project, a review panel. The Thompson Nicola Regional District Council has requested a review panel. The Grasslands Conservation Council, the Kamloops Naturalists Club and the Kamloops Fish and Game Club have all requested a review panel. The physicians and surgeons of Kamloops have requested a review panel.  Surely you could wish for no greater expression of public concern. Additionally, on September 15, 2011, five members of the Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA) met with Ms. McLeod at her constituency office and explained our reasons for wanting a review panel. Ms. McLeod gave us her unequivocal assurance (twice) that if the city council voted to request a federal review panel, she would would also write a letter to you supporting the council's position. Ms. McLeod has never indicated to us that her position on this issue has changed, so we assume that she has honoured and will continue to honour her commitment. 

The CEAA web site explains the basics of environmental assessment. In the section explaining review panels the CEAA states as follows:

"Review panels have the unique capacity to encourage an open discussion and exchange of views. They also inform and involve large numbers of interested groups and members of the public by allowing individuals to present evidence, concerns and recommendations at public hearings. A panel allows the proponent to present the project to the public and explain the projected environmental effects, and provides opportunities for the public to hear the views of government experts about the project."

To date the Comprehensive Environmental Assessment of the KGHM Ajax project has been an abject failure insofar as public participation or release of information is concerned. Only one public "scoping" meeting has been held, at which only one hour was given to hearing public comment, and only 12 questions were permitted from an attendance over over 400 hundred people. The BC EAO/CEAA kept no transcript or record of any kind of that meeting. Perfectly valid requests to the BC Environmental Assessment Office for information on the project go unanswered, or one is told the information cannot be released. Further, the sheer size of the proposed mine so close to a city of 87,000 people, to be operated by KGHM, a company recently found to have the worst environmental record of 300 companies studied in Europe, should, by any reasonable standard, be referred to a review panel. It should not left to the BCEAO which has such a dismal record with respect to the Prosperity Mine, and which has been found lacking in key areas, including transparency, by the Auditor General of B.C.

In short, the people of Kamloops and the Thompson Nicola Regional District and the other agencies noted above have all indicated that they want a federal review panel, and Ms. Cathy McLeod M.P. supports that position. I therefore request that you reconsider your position and refer the KGHM Ajax Project to a review panel.

Yours truly,

Michael J. Hewitt
Kamloops B.C.


Cara on 2011-11-29 20:45:43

Hi there, What did Peter Kent say in his reply letter. It sounded like he denied the request as you asked him to reconsider, but I couldn't find a copy of his letter on the website!

Kevin Cowan. on 2011-11-30 13:01:11

Damned Straight! Good Letter.

Barbie on 2011-12-14 21:07:52

Many many qiualty points there.

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