City of Kamloops representatives made a pitch Thursday to staff from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development to include the New Afton mine within municipal boundaries.
Mayor Peter Milobar said Thursday the normal amount of time to meet with ministry officials at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention is 10 to 15 minutes, but the Kamloops contingent got half an hour.
Minister Coralee Oakes wasn’t available, but her senior staff were, he said.
“They’re well aware of the concept we’re looking to do,” Milobar said.
The City is under pressure from its long-time four heavy industries — Domtar, Arclin, Lafarge and Tolko — to reduce their share of the tax load.
Those four companies are expected to make a pitch for a reduced tax burden this fall.
“I’m sure it’ll come up for discussion when Domtar and heavy industry makes a presentation to council.”
If the City can add New Gold into the heavy industry mix, it would add another company to help share the load.
Milobar said the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board hasn’t formally discussed the City’s plan, but he has had talks with the area director, Ronaye Elliott.
“Everyone’s supportive of the concept,” he said.
“We’ll keep working on refining down some of the area, meet with New Gold and area bands as well, and keep moving it along that way.”
Coun. Marg Spina said the mine has many staff who live in Kamloops and use the City amenities. And with the other large industries facing tough economic times, it could be a good fit, she said.
“We have a declining number of large, heavy industry in our area. We’re looking to better support our larger industries through equitable taxation.”
City’s recycling rejection vindicated
Earlier this month, Kamloops City council rejected a bid to sign up with Multi-Material B.C. to do recycling in town. MMBC wouldn’t accept glass or plastic film, and the City would be on the hook for $5,000 a day fines if the material were contaminated.
On Thursday, the Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a resolution calling on the province to extend a deadline for municipalities to sign on with MMBC and for more information to be available.
Coun. Ken Christian said the vote vindicates the Kamloops council rejection.
“A lot of sentiment was similar to what Kamloops said last week. The time limits were unrealistic and the lack of detail resonated with a lot of Lower Mainland municipalities,” he said.
“So I guess there was some justification for our position.”
Coun. Marg Spina agreed.
“We were asked to sign on with no real information. That’s why we refused.”
The City’s recycling contamination rate has never been below six per cent, and MMBC wants it to be at three per cent or it will issue fines, she added.
More low-income housing needed, minister told
City of Kamloops delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities only had 15 minutes with Deputy Premier Rich Coleman to talk about housing.
It seems that’s all they needed.
Coun. Ken Christian said he was impressed with the minister’s grasp of housing issues. In addition to being deputy premier, Coleman is also minister of natural gas development and minister of housing.
Christian said Coleman has taken the housing portfolio wherever he’s gone in cabinet.
“I was impressed — he is passionate about that file. And it seems to follow him to whatever ministry he gets,” he said.
Christian said Coleman was told about the work Kamloops has done to rezone properties for low-income housing. They stressed the city wants to make sure the ministry will come through with incentives to get developers to add to affordable housing stock.