The people of Kamloops have a watershed moment coming.
As a native of Kamloops and now 72 years old, I have watched the evolution of our community for a long time.
The construction of a pulp mill within our city was a defining moment and regardless of where you come down on whether the net benefits were worth it, it became a dominant brand identifying our community.
People arriving by air were greeted by the pulp mill smoke stack and the odour often permeated the cabin. Certainly, Phil Gaglardi's ‘smell of money’ was true for our employment, however, it also became an external image of Kamloops, not one of a destination community, apart from our regional fishing lakes but one you drove through.
Over time, we have developed beyond that brand into a larger more diversified economy and culture that draws people to live here, vacation here, set up businesses here, attend provincial events and choose to do their post-secondary education here.
Ajax challenges us to consider where we wish to go; how our community chooses to identify itself. The so-called public meetings hosted by Ajax officials are carefully scripted and managed. Open community forums have been rejected because we can't be trusted to attend and participate in a civilized manner.
The mine's plans are written while congratulating us for our complacency.
I'm sure you, the reader, can see where I'm heading with this. We are at a moment that comes along every 40-50 years for a community. If all goes as Ajax has planned, those of us remaining here can take a mine-sponsored tour to the top of the rock pile overlooking our city and announce "Goodbye Tournament Capital, Hello Ajax City."