Lacasse and Ajax: Mine opponent, mayor react to news

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Yves Lacasse will be little more than a figurehead for the company behind the proposed Ajax copper and gold mine when he starts his new job there, according one of the activists working to stop the project.

Lacasse will retire as superintendent of the Kamloops RCMP on Feb. 21 and assume his new role as manager of external affairs for KGHM International on Feb. 25.

"It doesn't appear this new hire has much experience in the mining industry," said John Schleiermacher of the Kamloops Area Preservation Association (KAPA), adding he expects Lacasse "will handle the job by following a script."

Schleiermacher said his experience dealing with public-relations employees with KGHM International, the company promoting the mine just south of Aberdeen, has been that "they weren't up to snuff with what's going on."

Schleiermacher noted his experience at a recent open house KGHM held to discuss the proposed mine.

"I talked with the young people representing Ajax and none had much information on this project. They had a lot of promises, but no specifics."

He said he is disappointed the company did not hire someone with a background in mining to handle the public face of the project.

Donna Sambolec, another KAPA member, said she is pleased Lacasse is staying in Kamloops and hopes that commitment to the community will be reflected in how he handles his job.

"I'm hoping that, with this, they will start to be more forthcoming, especially with baseline studies" about the mine and its impact on the environment, she said.

Sambolec said she felt confident in speaking for the rest of KAPA in wishing Lacasse well in his new job.

In the KTW story outlining Lacasse's decision to retire and join the Ajax team, he said his family has decided Kamloops is their home and they plan to remain here.

Mayor Peter Milobar said he learned of Lacasse's decision on Wednesday, Jan. 30, and was surprised.

"You always hope, when you people of that calibre in a job, you hope they stay in it," Milobar said, noting he can understand Lacasse's desire to have some permanent roots in a community, given the RCMP's propensity to move its members around.

The mayor noted that in his new role, however, Lacasse can "only provide information as he gets it.

"But, we're still going through the environmental-assessment process and, hopefully, he will bring something to this that will address the divisiveness this project has created."

The mayor expects to have some input into the new head of the detachment and plans to speak to senior RCMP officers who will be involved in the hiring process by early next week.

City council will also have to have a discussion about the position, Milobar said, looking at the human-resources aspects of it.

Milobar said council has had a unique relationship with its police detachment, one that is the envy of other mayors in B.C., noting a new superintendent will have to be receptive to that arrangement.

He said Kamloops is a frontrunner in creating a good level of communication and discussion between council and the police.

"I would hope that would continue. It's not always easy. Yves and I have had blunt discussions, but we come away still respecting each other."


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