Common sense should dictate that tourism and strip mining are not compatible side-by-side, particularly in a province that markets itself to the world as Super, Natural B.C.
Does this mean that an open-pit mine on the edge of the city will permanently handicap
regional tourism and possibly even the city’s aspirations for the future? Not necessarily so.
A pair of associate professors in TRU’s tourism management school raised important concerns at a public forum on Sunday, questioning whether the proposed Ajax mine threatens not only tourism but also essential qualities of life that make Kamloops a desirable place to visit and reside.
Rob Hood and John Hull pointed to significant growth and potential for tourism in the Thompson-Okanagan while criticizing the environmental assessment process for failing to give the $1.75-billion regional sector adequate consideration in relation to Ajax.
Tying in sports tourism and an international trend toward healthier lifestyles, Hull said he chose to move here over Ontario because of the Tournament Capital Centre. His first impression of the grasslands on the way into town was “spectacular.”
It only stands to reason that future visitors wouldn’t have the same impression, overlooking a pit, just as many visitors have bypassed Kamloops down through the years, assuming that it’s a smelly industrial town.
Unfortunately, as one of the speakers observed at the outset, the overwhelming majority of people who attended the forum were flatly opposed to the Ajax proposal. Repeated applause underscored the depth of their conviction. There was only a handful of undecided and a couple of people who favour the mine.
Neither the speakers nor the organizers — the TRU Faculty Association’s human rights committee — attempted to conceal their bias, conveyed in the forum’s subtitle when it posed the question: “Undermining the true vision for Kamloops?” They were preaching to the converted and an opportunity to change minds was lost for the most part.
Similarly, a Nov. 24 presentation is called “Imagine a Town Without a Mine.” No doubt about the direction of that one.
This has become a pattern in the ongoing debate as each side stakes out fresh ground and attempts to win hearts and minds. Normally, civic discourse is healthy, a welcome expression of citizens who care passionately about their community, but with this issue the open exchange of ideas is lacking and attitudes seem only to harden.
An impartial approach to publicity and presentation could have drawn a more representative mix of the population, which remains deeply, even bitterly, divided.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.