There are a two of things I'd like to touch on today.
First, I'd like to set the record straight on the recent reporting about City councillor expenses.
Shortly after being elected I discovered that each councillor in our city has a $5,000 ceiling for conference expenses. These funds are intended to allow councillors the opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding of municipal issues, to learn about what other communities are up to and to facilitate advocacy on the City's behalf.
Though I did not attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention I do have a lengthy list of conferences that I would like to attend this year. I have been trying to keep my "per conference" expenses to a minimum, as many have read, so that I can do as much municipal work outside our city as possible.
When I attended the SILGA convention in Revelstoke I stayed at the hostel because, having stayed there two years before on a winter trip (not the day before snowboarding as reported), I knew that it was comfortable and close to the conference centre. I carpooled with councillors Nancy Bepple and Ken Christian because it was an environmental option. Note: The most environmental choices are also the most economical!
The other subject I'd like to touch upon in this column, drum roll please... (what would a Coun. Cavers' column be without one mention?) is the Ajax (or Aberdeen) mine proposal.
Without fail I have been jumping at every opportunity to become better informed about the proposed mine and open pit mining in general. To date:
I've read every word of every letter written on the subject.
I've attended open houses, workshops and public meetings.
I've taken a very close look at both scale models.
I've been on two area tours including one put on by the proponent.
And I was recently up at Highland Valley Copper during their annual open house to see "the real thing" in operation.
The latter experience I found quite interesting as I had never toured a fully operational open-pit mine site. The staff showcasing the mine were all very kind and went out of their way to show me around.
The staging area itself wasn't very dusty. I was informed that the three stock pile domes Highland Valley employs capture $1 million worth of copper dust annually - given the miniscule concentrations of copper in the ore that is a LOT of dust.
Once on the bus tour around the perimeter of the operational pit and near the crusher the air-conditioner had to be shut off due to the tremendous amount of dust entering the cabin of the bus. It wasn't particularly windy.
The conclusion from this and all of the experiences mentioned above is that, using modern mining technology, negative impacts of open pit mining can be reduced but not eliminated. Therefore an open pit mine on our doorstep is a very, very poor idea.
The other day in conversation someone pointed out a great way for any Kamloopsian to visualize the enormity of the proposed mine project at its life end. (Depending on the orientation of the building you are currently inside perhaps you can try it now as I did).
"Look out your window for a moment at Mount Peter and Mount Paul. Imagine flipping them over. Now hollow them out and stick them in the ground 1.5 kilometers from Pacific Way Elementary School - THAT is what we're talking about here."
Donovan Cavers is a Kamloops City councillor. He can be contacted at Donovan_cavers@yahoo.com.