Coldstream politicians sat quietly for four hours Monday as more than 70 people took turns sharing their thoughts on the proposed pellet plant in Lavington. And they will have their listening ears on again this Monday.
The mass turnout is due to the Pinnacle Renewable Energy plant, a partnership with Tolko, which is proposed for Lavington, off School Road.
Even though a large number of people spoke up at the public hearing, Coldstream wants to ensure all voices are heard before it decides whether or not to grant the necessary zoning change which would accommodate the pellet plant.
“I would really like to hear from new people or new information,” said Mayor Jim Garlick. “I don’t want to re-hash any of this.”
Coldstream is also sending a notice to Pinnacle and the Ministry of Environment regarding the emissions approval.
“It is stated that we not support the permit if they could not meet the air quality of the objectives of the province,” said Garlick, as there are concerns about the particulate matter, particularly PM 2.5 (on top of fire, traffic and noise).
Coldstream is also requesting that if the plant is approved, that there be a monitoring station at Lavington Elementary School and in the area of dispersion. That information must also be made available to the public on an ongoing basis.
“There is no safe level of emissions,” said young Jaden Scott, one of many Lavington residents who spoke out at Monday’s public meeting.
The PM and fugitive dust are major concerns for Hill Drive resident Crystal Bergman, who said if the plant goes through, she will be pulling her children out of Lavington Elementary.
“It’s going to cover the school, school grounds, and park where our children play and exercise, homes, cars, yards and gardens, it’s going to get into the school ventilation systems and those of our homes.”
The fugitive dust, which many are concerned about, and already exists from the planer mill and traffic, is going to be eliminated with this new plant, said Ken Thorlakson, co-products manager.
“We’re not here to hurt anybody’s children.”
His words were echoed by Al Thorlakson, retired president, who says they didn’t invest in pellet plants earlier because they had the same questions the public has.
But now: “If we thought this project was a health hazard we wouldn’t proceed.”
Al even confirmed that they would pave the exit road from the mill to Hill Drive to further reduce dust.
Using a natural product, with no glues or additives, the plant is like those in Poland where you cannot even see the emissions, says Leroy Reitsma, Pinnacles President and CEO.
The plant is also aimed at dealing with an excess supply of fibre following the closure of the residual plant in Kamloops.
But there remains concerns, including fire hazards, and objections to the plant.
And there was one resounding message from those opposed, which was echoed by Rose Brietkrietz.
“To represent me, council must reject Pinnacles application.”
Coldstream will continue to accept letters until Monday, including comments at the public hearing at 6 p.m. before a decision is possibly made.