Council late to the party on burning rail ties

Re: City Council requesting information from Atlantic Power (AP) and Ministry of Environment (MOE) regarding rail tie burning.

Editor:

Re: City Council requesting information from Atlantic Power (AP) and Ministry of Environment (MOE) regarding rail tie burning.

With all due respect, I submit that council is late to this party and the professed interest in the risk to the community is too little, too late, occurring at the thirteenth hour.

The appeal deadline concerning AP amended permit, granted by MOE, to allow up to a 900 per cent increase in burning rail ties, has long since come and gone (increasing allowable rail tie burning from the previous five per cent to 50 per cent, is a nine-fold increase, or 900 per cent).

During the statutory consultation period, hundreds of residents signed petitions opposed to the permitted increase in rail tie burning.

Residents  filed appeals with the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB); and concerned citizens joined a grass-roots organization to oppose this permit, contributing time and money to the cause of protecting their community.

What did council do?

Asked a few cursory questions of the company before quickly endorsing the project; as did Cariboo Regional District and our MLA.

This miniscule questioning is depicted in the Consultation Report, compiled on behalf of the Permittee — AP.

This document is available at our library.

I suggest this woefully inadequate interrogation amounts to zero due diligence by our elected representatives — especially in light of the potential degradation of our community.

City councils of several other communities opposed similar plans to burn rail ties.

In response to appeals of the permit, the province has tenaciously opposed those who dared question the permit-seeking to have the appeals struck, and referring to appellants as “busybodies.”

In documents submitted to EAB,  MOE is perceived as a strident advocate of the company (AP).

Although I appreciate Council finally showing interest in the environmental and health risk to the community regarding burning rail ties, it’s unfortunate this questioning of MOE and AP did not occur much earlier, when the consultation period was open, and before Council endorsed the project.

John Pickford

Williams Lake