Recent references to similarities between Kamloops and Kalgoorlie, a mining town in Western Australia are misleading.
Kalgoorlie, affectionately known as “Kal” has been a mining town since 1893, and until 1989 when the “super pit” was formed, consisted of hundreds of small underground mines.
The super pit is nearing end of production, expected some time around 2017.
The town of Kalgoorlie/Boulder was built around the mine and currently has a population of about 30,000.
It has never had the diversified economy Kamloops has enjoyed with roots in forestry, mining, tourism/outdoor recreation and ranching.
That is, unless you consider Kal’s second tourist attraction — its famous Hay Street red-light district. Australians refer to Kal as “The Ranch” in direct reference to Nevada’s infamous Mustang Ranch.
Despite disclaimers on the internet that mining jobs go to locals, all four people I know who have been or are now employed by the mine have permanent residences in Perth or Melbourne.
None have housed their families in Kal. In short, Kal is to Australia what Fort Mac is to Canada.
Kal was never home to the West Coast Eagles training camp, has never hosted national summer or winter sporting events and is far from a popular tourist destination.
As Vera Wojna aptly pointed out (Super Pit Raises Concerns, The Daily News, Feb. 19), there are lessons to be learned from the Kalgoorlie mining experience.
Surely our vision of Kamloops as a gaping, dusty, noisy, vibrating open pit with surrounding air and water pollution is not what we envision for our community.
Kamloops is ideally situated to produce clean energy through wind, solar and geothermal technologies. Now is the time for a vision of a clean, vibrant, inviting community where visitors can do much more than gaze into an open pit.
The question is, does Kamloops have the political will to move forward rather than backward?