Pinnacle process proceeds

Company is expected to respond to all public concerns over a proposed wood pellet plant in Lavington.

Pinnacle Renewable Energy is expected to respond to all public concerns over a proposed wood pellet plant in Lavington.

The application is currently being reviewed by the Ministry of Environment, which must give its approval before the plant can proceed.

Many Lavington residents have concerns about increased train traffic, dust, noise and emissions from the plant.

“The applicant is expected to respond to comments received from anyone who expresses concerns regarding their application,” said Matthew Lamb-Yorski, environmental protection officer with the ministry. “The applicants response to public concerns is an important part of the ministry’s review of the application.”

The public has until Saturday to send its comments into the ministry, which as of Tuesday had  received eight e-mails from the pubic.

“During this step of the process the public is encouraged to forward their concerns and questions to Pinnacle Renewable Energy,” said Lamb-Yorski.

Those e-mails and all application package details will be taken into consideration during the adjudication of the permit request.

“If required, the applicant may be asked to provide additional information regarding outstanding issues that arose during the public notification period,” said Lamb-Yorski.

Coldstream must also give third and final approval of zoning changes to the subject property, which is across the railway tracks from the existing Tolko planer mill, off of School Road.

A petition of upwards of 300 signatures opposed to the plant will be presented at the District of Coldstream committee of the whole meeting Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. where the Ministry of Environment is expected to be in attendance.

A public hearing on the rezoning of the property will also take place Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. Any written submissions must be received by Thursday.

While there has been outspoken opposition to the plant, there are also a number of people who are quietly supporting the plant, which will bring 20 full-time jobs to the area.

“People always say we have no industry. Well here is a chance for more jobs that are needed in the town,” said one local supporter in response to The Morning Star’s latest article.

Another person who did not want their name used said, “With mill shutdowns and other businesses/employers closing the doors, don’t you think it’s time we take advantage of an opening door? The greater good of this area is at stake, and when a select few make so much noise to reject what in the long term is a little noise, we slam doors of opportunity before they are even cracked open a sliver.”

But opponents are highly concerned about the negative health impacts of having this type of industry so close to Lavington Elementary.

“Although noise and traffic concerns are part of this process, they are the least of our worries at this point,” said Stephanie Hoffman, who has been rallying opposition to the plant. “It has everything to do with air quality and maintaining a healthy well being within the community.

“It all has to do with the cumulative effect on the environment and the risk to the people and we have a real problem with the fact that the Ministry of Environment has not done an air quality analysis for the proposed site, their entire study is based on predictions from Vernon and Coldstream Ranch.”

Pinnacle could not be reached for comment.