Half of the conference space at the Crest Hotel was packed tonight for an open house on Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s planned export terminal in Prince Rupert.
Along with company officials, project planners and members of the Prince Rupert Port Authority – the agency overseeing the environmental review of the project – the walls were lined with boards showing the scope of the project and what mitigation measures were being taken to address issues like noise and dust. The two hour meeting saw plenty of interaction between residents, a few city councillors and company officials – including president and COO Leroy Reitsma.
“I think we had a lot of positive dialogue with people, and also got a good barometer of how people feel about the project. It was a great opportunity to share what we perceive as a lot of positive aspects of the development, but also the degree of due diligence that has taken the project to this point,” he said.
“In terms of evaluating, zoning issues and other issues aside, in the eyes of the community we want to help people to see the balance of values. Not all the values are going to be positive, but we do want to show the positives that balance any negatives.
Indeed, Reitsma said there was a mix of positive and negative feedback on the project, as well as some good comments that will be considered going forward.
“I think a lot of people wanted a greater understanding of the dust in particular. A primary concern raised by the people in the neighbourhood to the east of the project is the impact on property values if the harbour view changed…That comes back to the balance of what we’re bringing with this project to the community and the surrounding communities,” he said, noting property taxes, employment, noise reduction through work with CN, cleaning up the Westview site and increased pedestrian access to the waterfront as positives.
“The whole process is targeted at getting everyone’s input into the process.”
To that end, the company will be back in Prince Rupert on June 18 for a community meeting to present some of the comments and concerns gathered at tonight’s open house, what is being done to address them and to allow people to ask more questions of the representatives.
One change from the initial design outlined in September is the plan to allow for future expansion to seven silos from the proposed four.
“Our initial commitment is to construct the four silos as part of the initial development phase, but we certainly have the expectation to expand the facility once more production comes online in northern BC,” he said, adding that he wanted to be perfectly clear with the public on what the terminal could look like.
However, the revised size raised some concerns when the issue of the pellet terminal was discussed by Prince Rupert city council the night before.
“One of the reasons why Pinnacle has chosen to locate at the waterfront as opposed to Ridley Island was because of the scale of the operation. But when it was originally presented to us it was almost half of what it is now,” said councillor Anna Ashley.
“Considering that the size and scale of the project has almost doubled from when they originally presented the idea to us, I assume the environmental impact of everything will be double what they were considering, and one of the things they talked about was truck access. I assume if the scale is doubling the number of trucks will be doubling too.”
As well as concerns about the scope of the project, council reasserted the need for a waterfront plan to be in place as it relates to the development of the Prince Rupert waterfront.
“This is exactly the reason why we should be sitting down with the port, because we need to have a plan for what is socially acceptable down there. Because if Pinnacle is turned down and someone else comes along, what is acceptable? The port has to have some kind of development down there,” said councillor Joy Thorkelson.
At the public meeting itself Ken Shaw, one of the vocal opponents of the project, also presented Reitsma and Andy Cook of the Prince Rupert Port Authority with a letter from a lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law stating that the environmental review process should be a comprehensive one as opposed to a screening.