Editor, The Times:
We are sending this letter to your community on behalf of many Kamloops citizens who are opposed to development of an open-pit copper and gold mine immediately adjacent to, and partly within, our city’s boundaries – the Ajax mine.
We have learned that current legislation allows the interests of mining companies to override the needs and aspirations of municipalities, regional districts and First Nations. The Mineral Tenure Act gives preferential treatment to the mining sector over other development opportunities such as renewable resources, agriculture, and tourism. Because of the well documented health and environmental hazards associated with open pit mining, we believe it is critical for all BC residents to be aware of this issue. What has happened to Kamloops can happen anywhere in B.C.
This spring, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities voted unanimously to support a resolution advanced by Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne calling on the Provincial Government to modernize the Mineral Tenure Act. This resolution will be put before the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) this fall, and we believe it is extremely important that local governments and First Nations across B.C. support efforts to enshrine their right to refuse proposals that threaten the well-being of their citizens or local eco-systems.
We wish to clarify that we are not opposed to responsible mining. We recognize the important role this industry plays in our economy. However, developing an open-pit copper and gold mine dangerously close to, and upwind from, a populated area is extremely irresponsible and should not be allowed. The health and environmental risks associated with open-pit mining require that such activity be safely away from heavily populated areas and vulnerable ecosystems.
Fundamentally, we believe that the long-term health and well-being of the population and protection of the environment must take priority over the short-term economic benefits of resource extraction.
The present environmental assessment process, however well-intentioned, cannot be relied upon to protect the long-term interests of local populations or the environment in which we live.
We strongly urge your citizens to become informed about this issue. We encourage you to let local politicians attending the UBCM convention know how important it is for them to support the resolution calling on the Provincial Government to modernize the Mineral Tenure Act. We encourage all citizens of B.C. to contact their MLAs and express their concerns.
We simply cannot allow the short-term corporate interests of mining companies to take priority over our health, the health of our children and grandchildren, and our environment.
Andrew Bezooyen, for all members of an email network of concerned citizens
John Schleiermacher, Kamloops Area Preservation Association
Gina Morris, Kamloops Moms For Clean Air
Dr. Judith Naylor, Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment