If rail ties were used as a last resort by Atlantic Power Corporation in Williams Lake city council said it is confident the company would follow through with appropriate storage, handling and processing.
The opinion was expressed in a letter responding to a Rail Ties Be Wise presentation made by Angie Delainey on April 30 asking the city not to endorse rail tie burning.
During the regular council meeting Tuesday June 11, council approved Mayor Walt Cobb signing the letter on council’s behalf.
Cobb said council discussed the concerns raised by Delainey and Rail Ties Be Wise with both Atlantic Power and the Ministry of Environment.
“We talked about all the issues they had raised and pretty well everything they asked about was in the Environmental Appeal Board report,” Cobb said. “We are going to put the report on our website so everybody can get the facts on the issue. They have their permit, it’s done, that’s where it is at this stage of the game.”
In April, the Environmental Appeal Board ruled in favour of Atlantic Power burning rail ties, stipulating combined rail material and clean construction and demolition debris cannot exceed 35 per cent of total biomass on an annual basis or 50 per cent on a given day.
Council’s letter noted that the incineration of rail ties at the facility would only occur as a last resort in response to the shortage of local fibre supply, and it is council’s understanding that Atlantic Power would have to undertake a significant capital upgrade to its facility in order to be able to process rail ties at all.
Continued access to a stable fibre supply from local forests would be the most viable method to ensure that alternative fuel sources are not needed at Atlantic Power, Cobb added.
“Council is confident that advocacy directed at encouraging subsidies for hauling wood waste from our local forests and reducing open burning would have the largest impact on ensuring our community continues to prosper from natural resources.”
Earlier this month, the Cariboo Chilcotin Teachers’ Association said in a press release that at its AGM on May 22, the association voiced its opposition to Atlantic Power burning rail ties, followed by representatives of the province’s 40,000 teachers adding their voice, expressing similar opposition at the BCTF’s Spring Representative Assembly in Richmond on June 1.
The plant has operated in Williams Lake since 1993 and been owned by Atlantic Power since 2011.
Coun. Marnie Brenner was not present at the Tuesday, June 11, council meeting.