Councillors less-than-thrilled with Ajax meeting

It wasn't the meeting they were expecting, but city councillors who attended a closed-door meet and greet with representatives of KGHM International feel they might be a step closer to getting proponents of the proposed Ajax mine to speak with them publicly.

Councillors had assumed they were attending a sit-down meeting on the controversial proposal on Wednesday, Jan. 16, but Coun. Donovan Cavers said the actual event was much less formal than expected.

"I wouldn't call it a meeting," he said. "It was basically just the same open house format the public had afterwards and the day before, just with less people. It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for."

The mine's public open houses, held on Jan. 15 and 16, were meant to introduce the city to the new Ajax project team that was put in place after KGHM increased its stake in the mine to 80 per cent last year.

Coun. Nelly Dever was surprised to discover council had been invited to a smaller version of the same, along with representatives from Venture Kamloops, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

"My initial feeling was disappointment," she said.

But, Dever said, she feels she was able to bend the ear of KGHM Ajax CEO Marcin Mostowy, pressing him on the timeline for a digital scale model of the mine site and the city, which council requested last spring.

"That is so important because a lot of people are making assumptions about what the visual impact of the mine will be," Dever said, noting Motowy told her he hadn't realized the model was so important and would make sure it was completed.

Cavers was less enthusiastic about the outcome of the meeting, noting he received "a few business cards, not really any new information" from the talks.

He did, however, extend an invitation for Ajax's proponents to come to council, as did Dever and Mayor Peter Milobar.

"Our door's wide open to them and I think we made it abundantly clear," Milobar said. "So, now it's just waiting to see if they'll take us up on the offer,"

Dever said she spoke to one representative about the possibility of KGHM delegates coming to council regularly, perhaps every few months, to keep the city updated on the project's timeline.

She thinks the meeting ended up being more valuable than it seemed.

"I was a little disappointed walking in, but I felt pretty optimistic when I left," she said.

Though council had originally planned to send only three randomly chosen members and the mayor to the meeting, all of council ended up attending the meet and greet in staggered shifts.



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