Aberdeen Highlands Development Corp. is watching and questioning the proposed Ajax mine with close interest.
But so far, general manager Chris Bebek said Friday, the looming project hasn’t cast a shadow on interest in houses or lots for sale in the area.
“We’ve asked a lot of questions to Ajax, to the Environmental Assessment Office, a couple of letters with questions,” she said.
There haven’t been any answers yet, but she expected that will come with the release of the AIR document that KGHM-Ajax is still finalizing.
Bebek was disappointed with the company’s 3-D video imaging of the project — a sentiment expressed also by Mayor Peter Milobar and some other officials in Kamloops.
“It didn’t show a good representation of size and scope in comparison with the rest of the city.”
The mine’s impact on house prices and land values is a major concern for her company, but so far, it’s too early to determine what that might be should the mine get approved.
“From our perspective, we have had people asking what will happen. I can’t say. I don’t know,” she said.
The first phase of development of Highlands West is sold out, the second phase is already half sold and the third part is on the market this summer, she said.
Builders are already wanting to reserve lots and multi-family units are sparking an interest, she added.
The Kamloops and District Real Estate Association’s statistics show in the first three months of this year, 44 homes were sold in Aberdeen. That’s more than everywhere except Brocklehurst, with 63 homes, and Westsyde, with 45.
(Sales in other areas included 40 homes in Sahali, 30 for South Shore, 27 in North Kamloops, 23 in Batchelor Heights, 17 in Valleyview,15 in Pineview Valley and 11 each in Juniper and Dallas.)
Association president David Peressini said house sales in the city overall were up a couple of per cent from the first quarter of 2011.
“So far, it’s more or less business as usual,” he said, adding he does get the occasional question about Ajax.
“We want to absorb all the information we can. From a real estate point of view, I don’t see it being a major effect at this stage. . . . I hear a general concern sometimes, but nothing different than what we’re hearing in the community.”
Buyers and builders aren’t the only ones with questions — Aberdeen Highlands has asked, too, said Bebek.
She has attended public meetings and talked to Ajax’s professionals at their open house, as well as submitting — and even resubmitting — questions on her company’s behalf.
The impacts go beyond Aberdeen, she said.
“Personally, I think whatever effects there might be from the mine are going to affect other parts of the city, too,” Bebek said.
“We can all speculate, we all have in our minds what the impacts might be, but in reality, we don’t know if it’s going to happen. For us, we’re willing to wait and see what the studies say. But it’s appropriate for us to ask the questions.”
As for housing prices, she said she’s talked to a few realtors and it doesn’t seem to be an issue.
“Last fall, things were a little slow. But just before Christmas, it picked up again in our new subdivisions. It is a little slower than previous year, but so is the overall market,” she said.
“Right now, we’ve started to see some increase in interest in the last couple of months. That’s a good sign. And I hear from local realtors, Aberdeen’s still a hot place in the city where people want to live.”
Aberdeen Highlands is looking at what the legal recourses are for the company should there be financial impacts from the mine, she said.
“What expectations will be put on the mine, not just for us, but other homeowners in the area for property value loss or other impacts,” she said.
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It’s maybe too early to speculate as to what might happen or what options we have. Who knows? It may not even go ahead. We’re willing to wait to see what all the studies say.”