August 19, 2014 - 1:20 PM
COLDSTREAM - A controversial pellet plant has overcome a significant hurdle.
Pinnacle Renewable Energy and Tolko Industries have the go ahead to rezone the land intended for the plant though it wasn’t an easy, or unanimous decision for Coldstream council.
Third reading of the rezoning bylaw scraped through deliberations with four councillors voting in favour of it and three against. The bylaw, which would allow the construction of a pellet plant next to the existing Tolko mill off School Road in Lavington, will go through final adoption in the coming weeks.
“It was after many hours of deliberations and many presentations from industry experts, from the proponents and from the people that live in Lavington and from the general population,” Coun. Maria Besso, who supported the application, says. “It was done with a lot of consideration.”
Council’s approval comes with several recommendations to the Ministry of Environment, should it allow the plant to go ahead.
“We’ve said don’t issue a permit unless (Pinnacle) meets the provincial air quality guidelines,” Besso says.
Council also asked for two ambient air quality monitoring stations — one at nearby Lavington Elementary and another at the factory’s greatest anticipated point of particulate discharge — if the plant is approved. Additionally, council wants stack testing monitors to measure the plant’s emissions.
Local residents have expressed fierce opposition to the plant, saying it would have negative effects on peoples’ health and on the environment. Council reopened a public hearing on the matter earlier this summer to give residents another opportunity to give input.
“I can very much relate with their concerns, I have those concerns for the entire valley,” Besso says. “Rezoning 7.1 acres to put a pellet plant on is just the tip of the iceberg. This has brought attention to the fact that our background air quality is very bad. Because of the shape of the valley and the inversions, pollutants tend to stay.”
That’s why Coldstream is looking into the idea of creating an air quality committee at the regional district level.
While a large portion of deliberations were focused on health and safety, another important part of the conversation was economic development.
“As politicians we have to consider the health and welfare of citizens first, but part of the health and welfare of the community has got to be jobs and the economy,” Besso says. “This pellet plant would create 18-20 jobs but it also helps anchor the financial viability of the existing Tolko planer mill and the financial viability of the railroad.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014