Where Coun. Tina Lange couldn’t get her Kamloops colleagues to push for updates to the province’s Mineral Tenure Act, the council in Tofino succeeded.
Lange said Wednesday the Tofino mayor and council unanimously passed a resolution to go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities calling for the 140-year-old act to be updated.
She tried to get Kamloops council on side with a similar request in June 2012, but failed.
“They’re not saying no to mining at all, or throw out the act. They’re saying it’s 140 years old and it’s time there was some public input and dialogue with all the stakeholders to update it,” she said.
“Alberta just did that in the last year or so. It’s time. That’s why I brought it forward to council to take to UBCM.”
She won’t be attending this year’s UBCM convention, which meets next week, but she’s hoping the resolution will pass.
The Tofino resolution points out that the act was created in the 1800s and didn’t account for more recent economic activity such as tourism, forestry and farming. It calls for the province to undertake a public engagement process that includes local governments and First Nations in how to best update the act so that it ensure all interests are given fair consideration.
Mayor Peter Milobar however, was cautious about the City having more input into proposed mines.
“I don’t have a big problem with the province updating the act, but I have a problem with local control. We can’t afford to pay for all the studies and things like that. If you were an even smaller town, how would you do that?” he said.
“It’s not the concept of updating the Mineral Tenure Act, it’s the prescriptive things to be done in the update.”
Milobar pointed out that for the City to do a review of a mine proposal such as Ajax would cost a huge amount of money.
“If we got an actual dollar figure from the province for their experts and reviews, I highly doubt we’d be able to afford to do it. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.
“That’s the piece that’s worrisome to me.”
The vote on the UBCM resolution is open, so cities don’t vote as blocks, but delegates vote individually.
Four groups opposing the KGHM-Ajax proposal wrote council last month asking for support for a UBCM resolution.
Lange said what bothers her is the City determined Aberdeen was one of the best places for new expansion. It planned and rezoned for that growth, developers bought land and property owners settled in, and now the municipality has no say in the proposed mine that could affect all of that.
“I believe we need to have some power,” she said. “We would simply weigh in on a proposal, just the same as any other group would.”