Williams Lake City Council has decided it will need additional information before it will decide whether to write a letter supporting Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.’s permit amendment application with the Ministry of Environment.
“There’s no question we have to wait,” Mayor Walt Cobb said after a 15-minute conversation with other members of council and staff during the Tuesday, April 2 committee of the whole meeting.
Last week Pinnacle made a presentation to council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 26, and held an open house at the Tourism Discovery Centre on Thursday, March 28 to share details of proposed upgrades to the plant in Williams Lake.
Cobb said from the open house two distinct issues emerged.
One is the permit amendment itself and what it actually means in terms of emissions.
The other issue is the dust around the site and other industrial sites in the city.
“I heard loud and clear it’s not just about what comes out of those stacks, it’s the dust elsewhere on the site,” Cobb said. “That’s not part of the permit. We are going to have to deal with it through bylaws or whatever. They have promised they would pave the parking lot at Pinnacle, but we will have to deal with the rest of it.”
Cobb said his home overlooks the Stampede Grounds and on Sunday, because of an inversion, smoke was hanging all the way down the end of the lake.
“But as I sat there and watched, the trucks and the dust coming out of the mill yard was just as bad and it was going in the same direction.”
Coun. Marnie Brenner said there needs to be a balance.
“If you increase production to will automatically increase emissions, however, we may be losing other industries in Williams Lake so how do you balance that loss?” she said. “These guys are going to increase production, they are going to have partnerships with First Nations communities, which is something we want. They are going to increase drivers because they need to haul stuff in. They are doing some good things, but at the same time they are creating more emissions.”
Brenner said she thinks the information needs to be broken down for people to understand the disbursement better and what particulates the public needs to worry about.
Coun. Jason Ryll said until the Ministry of Environment receives all the information from Pinnacle for the permit amendment and can explain it to city council, then council cannot make a decision to support the amendment.
“I would like to see more growth in the city for sure, but until we know that it is in within acceptable air quality standards currently or if they increase production I am not prepared to make a decision until I know the facts,” Ryll said.
Coun. Sheila Boehm said she would like to see more evaluations done on what emissions are coming out from the pellet plant.
“I would love to know what it is,” she said.
Coun. Ivan Bonnell proposed council ask for a 30-day extension and Cobb said council should alert Pinnacle.
Council directed staff to write a letter to both Pinnacle Pellet and the Ministry of Environment.
Chief Administrative Officer Milo MacDonald said he will be contacting other communities in B.C. where Pinnacle operates to ask for some feedback on how Pinnacle’s equipment is working.
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