Second meeting over plant

Vernon School District officials will gather more input on a proposed pellet plant

Vernon School District officials will gather more input on a proposed pellet plant, but they admit there is little they can do to stop the Lavington facility.

Trustees voted Wednesday to hold another meeting Sept. 2 on the topic after a request came from parents concerned about the potential impact pellet dust would have on the health of Lavington Elementary students.

“We want parents to have an opportunity to provide their views. We need to listen to them,” said trustee John Armstrong.

However, Armstrong admits the district’s role is limited as the final decision about the plant will be made by the Ministry of Environment.

“We don’t have any influence over the process but we can get educated and express our concerns to other jurisdictions,” he said.

The Sept. 2 meeting will be at 4 p.m. at the school board office.

“Comments will be restricted to safety,” said Bill Turanski, board chairperson.

“We have no jurisdiction over whether the District of Coldstream did the right thing or not (with rezoning the property).”

On Wednesday, trustees received a presentation from Pinnacle Renewable Energy, which is proposing the pellet plant in conjunction with Tolko Industries.

“We don’t see that there’s a lot of risk here,” said Leroy Reitsma, Pinnacle president.

Pinnacle says the nearest emission point would be 356 metres from the school, with the average distance of emission being 410 metres.

“The proposed emissions are below standards and it’s proven technology,” said Reitsma.

Parents in the audience demanded there be a second board meeting so they could speak directly to trustees.

“It’s children at the school with a sawmill next door and that requires balance,” said one parent Wednesday.

However, Reitsma pointed out that the official input process for the proposal is over and his company is proceeding with its application to the Ministry of Environment, which will review all information before making a decision.

“Boards, including yours, are being asked to step in as experts and make opinions and that’s not appropriate,” he told trustees.