Chris Barber (left)

Chris Barber (left)

Plant fires up mixed feelings

Close to 60 people attended an open house to learn more about a wood pellet plant in Lavington

Some Lavington residents are fuming over the possibility of a pellet plant moving into their neighbourhood, while others are quietly cheering on the project.

Close to 60 people attended an open house to learn more about a wood pellet plant proposed off School Road next to the Tolko mill.

“There were a number of people who wanted to come just to inform themselves on what the project entitled,” said Craig Lodge, vice president of Forestry with Pinnacle Renewable Energy.

The project is a partnership between Tolko and Pinnacle Renewable Energy and would bring 20 full-time positions to the area.

“There was quite a number of people who came out and just quietly expressed support for the project,” said Lodge.

And there were also concerns from some neighbours about air emissions, noise, dust and the overall impact the plant will have on the area, which includes the nearby Lavington Elementary School.

“I just find it absolutely absurd that the District of Coldstream does not allow any of its residents to have a backyard fire pit but will allow a huge industrial polluter right into our backyards and within 150 metres from an elementary school,” said Stephanie Hoffman, one opposing neighbour.

Along with signing the petition, Hoffman urges everyone concerned about the plant to attend Monday’s council meeting at 6 p.m., where a zoning bylaw to accommodate the plant could be approved.

“We need numbers to attend as it may be our last chance to fight the fight,” said Hoffman, adding that there is also a Facebook Lavington Pellet Plant discussion page.

Those with concerns also have until Aug. 2 to get their written comments to the Environment Protection Officer, Authorizations Southern Interior Region (Cariboo Office) Environment Protection Division, Ministry of Environment 400 – 640 Borland Street, Williams Lake B.C. V2G 4TI.

Pinnacle maintains this plant will be state of the art.

“We’re putting in new drying technology which will allow us to significantly reduce particulate levels, particularly PM2.5,” said Lodge.

Hoffman was also told by a Ministry of Environment official that there will be strict monitoring in place to make sure the plant is operating within the air quality guidelines.

But, she adds: “No matter what the guidelines ‘suggest’, any level of particulate discharge is negative to human health.”

The facility will operate 24 hours a day/seven days a week but the main mode of transport for product will be rail.

Railway activity is expected to double, while the plant will only add an extra four trucks per day to the road.

The gravel driveway from School Road to the two-hectare footprint site will be paved to reduce road dust.

As a result, current truck traffic accessing Tolko via Jeffers Drive for sawdust, shavings, chips and hog fuel will be redirected to the new road on the north side of the tracks.

If all approvals go through, Pinnacle is hoping to begin construction sometime around September and be operational next year.