KAPA report on the March 28 meeting of the Community Advisory Group

Posted by Stop Ajax Mine on April 12th, 2012 8:06pm

The BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has created a Community Advisory Group (CAG), tasked with seeking input from the residents of Kamloops and the addressing their concerns. The membership of CAG includes the following organizations; Grasslands Conservation Council of BC, Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA) Kamloops Naturalist Club, Kamloops & District Fish & Game Association, Kamloops Astronomical Society, Kamloops Stockmen's Association, Pineview Community Group, Thompson Institute of Environmental Studies, Aberdeen Highlands Development Corporation, Kamloops Fly Fisher's Association, Thompson Watershed Coalition, Aberdeen Community Association, Coalition to protect East Kamloops and the Lac Le Jeune Community Association (representing residents living along the Lac Le Jeune Road adjacent to Kamloops). 

 The most recent meeting of the CAG was held on March 28, 2012. At that meeting three primary issues were raised.

1. That the CAG be afforded the same status as the technical working group in the environmental assessment process.

2. That the proponent be required by the EAO to produce a physical 3D model of the proposed mine.

3. That the proponent be required to hold at least one open microphone public forum, preferably with the proponents and independent experts on the panel to respond to questions from the public. The proponent prefers to hold "workshops", the first of which will b held on April 18.

The reasons for CAG making these requests are as follows:

The most important issue raised by CAG members at the March 28th meeting was that of the role of CAG in the assessment process. There was unanimous support for the proposal that the CAG should be afforded the same status in the environmental assessment (EA) review process as is given to the Working Group. Specifically, the CAG should have equal status in the Application Evaluation, Application Review and Assessment Report phases of the EA process. KAPA can see no legislative barrier to this request. Indeed, the document provided to the CAG by the EAO titled "The Environmental Assessment Process" states under the heading "Application Review Phase" that the EAO will require the participant to distribute copies of the application "to other review participants, including the technical working group and First Nations". 

The BC Government created the CAG in order to ensure that the concerns, questions and suggestions of the general public were heard, and dealt with in a transparent manner. It is therefore only logical that the CAG should be fully involved throughout the review process. It is far more representative of the general public of Kamloops and area than is the technical working group. The latter is composed primarily (aside fromFirst Nations representatives) of government employees, as well as municipal officials only one of whom represents Kamloops. The EAO concerns that CAG would be overwhelmed with a huge amount of information should not be used as a reason for not fully involving CAG in the process. The CAG can decide what information they will address and how they will do it. Please note that there a number of highly qualified people (including PhDs) available to the CAG who would assist in reviewing the information. If the CAG is not given equal status as the working group it means that the representatives of this city and area will be shut out of the process to any meaningful degree. KAPA hopes that Environment Minister Terry Lake will support the CAG request for equal status as an essential part of what he has described as a robust process which is transparent, inclusive and fair.

The second issue raised was that of a physical 3D model of the proposed mine. There was unanimous CAG support (minus one member) for a proposal that the proponent produce a physical 3D model of the proposed mine and its relation to Kamloops. (The same request had been made at the February 2nd meeting of CAG.) However, the proponent has indicated that they will only provide a computer based 3D model. CAG members stated that a physical model will provide residents with a much more realistic impression of the proposed mine. Also, that there are many people who do not own computers, especially many of the elderly. It was pointed out that property developers routinely make physical 3D models of proposed developments since it is seen as the best way to fully inform proposed buyers.( "This is what it will look like.")

EAO staff have to date appeared very reluctant to require that the proponent build a physical 3D model. The BC Public Consultation Policy Regulation, section 4, clearly authorizes the Executive Director of EAO to require that the proponent build such a model. We now wonder why the proponent is so reluctant to build such a model, and why the EAO appears so reluctant to require that they build one. Why delay on such a simple request. The residents of this city and area surely deserve to have their wish for this model met. The 3D video model released by the proponent illustrates very clearly why a physical 3D model is needed.

The third issue raised by CAG was that of a requirement for at least one public, open microphone forum, at which the general public can raise issues and concerns regarding the proposed mine. At the February 2nd CAG meeting Mr. Chris Hamilton, EAO, made an unequivocal commitment to at least one such forum. The response of the proponent has been to offer a number of "workshops", with limited numbers of people being invited to participate at each workshop. The workshops may indeed prove informative, but there is still a real need for at least one open microphone forum, such as were held during the recent municipal election.


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