The letter from Steve Knudson (City Council Must Unite Against Ajax, The Daily News, Oct.26) ought not to go unchallenged. Mr. Knudson asks if anyone can point out the benefits to Kamloops that resulted from the development of the Afton mine.
Well, Mr. Knudson, I can. During every year of its 25-year life, Afton directly contributed millions of dollars to the local economy in wages and local purchases of equipment and operating supplies. This contribution helped Kamloops to develop into the thriving, vigorous place that it is.
Mr. Knudson says every time he flies to Vancouver he sees the scar created by the Afton mine. Certainly, the pit itself has not been reclaimed — it never was intended to be reclaimed. But if Mr. Knudson wants to take a drive with me I can show him hundreds of acres that were disturbed by the mining operation that have been successfully reclaimed, to the point that it is very difficult to distinguish the reclaimed ground from the original grassland.
Mr. Knudson claims that the proposed Ajax mine “will create enormous environmental problems affecting the health, welfare and lifestyle of the people that live in the city.” That simply will not happen. If the permitting review process reveals such problems, the permit will not be granted. And if the permit is granted, the mine will have to live within the constraints stipulated by the permit, which will not allow such problems to develop. I have worked in the mining industry in Western Canada long enough to have considerable faith in the government bodies that control such activities. Mr. Knudson and others need to get things into perspective:
* The total area disturbed by mining in Canada is less than one tenth of one per cent of its land area. There is more area in paved parking lots for McDonald’s Restaurants in Canada than there are areas disturbed by mining. The area that will be disturbed as a result of the development of the Ajax mine is really not that significant.
* The City of Kamloops itself will probably use more area in the next couple of years for new residential development, paved roads and new parking lots than the area that will be occupied by the Ajax mine. And the area used by the City will be permanently destroyed, whereas the Ajax area will be temporarily disturbed, and then mostly reclaimed when the mine is finished.
* I note a recent announcement that upgrading of the highway to four lanes between Kamloops and Calgary is to be accelerated. This will permanently destroy more land than will be temporarily disturbed by the Ajax mine.
Like Mr. Knudson, I also have a request of Kamloops council — open your minds and listen and when all the facts are known make your judgment, not on the basis of politics or corporate forces but on the basis of the net benefit to the region and the citizens of Kamloops.