Phil Gaglardi used to say that God put minerals in the ground and fish in the rivers for man to use, not to admire.
There isn’t much doubt which side of the Ajax mine debate Flyin’ Phil would have come down on.
But while we need the minerals that God gave us, and therefore must dig them out of the ground, He didn’t always put them in convenient places.
I think it’s safe to say — environmental concerns aside — that the Ajax mine project wouldn’t be nearly so controversial if not for the fact the property straddles City boundaries and is next door to what’s expected to be the greatest area of residential growth in coming years.
For example, there was no significant environmental resistance either to the old Afton site when it was originally being developed back in the ‘70s, or to the New Afton site currently nearing production.
We can conclude, then, that people are not so thick that they don’t understand mining is a necessity. But the question is, must we dig no matter where it is?
Many, including Jill and Shaun Walton, don’t think so. Granted, they live in Aberdeen, near Pacific Way elementary, so their concern is bolstered by the fact the new mine will be close to them.
They wrote to Terry Lake and Kevin Krueger expressing that concern.
“Our house is 15 years old and we have endured and are still enduring all the construction in Aberdeen West, as well as the new fire station construction,” they wrote.
They listed several reasons they think the mine is a bad idea, not the least of which is, “The mine will be a complete scar on the landscape and the grasslands and sage will never recover.”
They summed up, “Open-pit mining is never an attractive project wherever it is, but this proposal is outrageous.”
Two weeks later, Krueger’s constituency assistant, Joel Neustaeter, replied to the Waltons’ email.
Krueger understands their concerns, he wrote, assuring them that “modern mining in B.C. is a careful, productive, beneficial process. Proposals for mines are almost always controversial; our government has a very thorough, inclusive, exhaustive process to evaluate all the input, concerns, costs and benefits.”
He noted that money for public services must come from somewhere. “Those people will also expect their health care and other social needs to be fully funded by government when they need them; mining is a gigantic contributor to government being able to do so.”
On the matter of location, Neustaeter had a most enlightening answer.
“People often say, ‘Let them mine where there are no people,’ not realizing that the minerals are not evenly distributed across the landscape; God hid them where he put them, and once people have invested the risk capital to find and claim the needle in the haystack, they have the moral and legal right to determine whether those minerals can be safely and economically drawn from the subsurface.”
As Gaglardi was, Krueger is a man of God. And as expressed by his executive assistant, it’s clear the MLA for Kamloops South is of the mind that people must take a backseat to the exploitation of resources.
After all, if God put those minerals in somebody’s backyard, He must have wanted us to dig them up.