A committee for the group of concerned citizens presented their concerns on Atlantic Power’s Proposal to increase their permit to burn rail ties to Williams Lake City Council last night.
Jack Hilton says the company’s request to burn more tail ties because of an anticipated availability of biomass due to the allowable cut to the timber supply being reduced does not make sense.
“Some of us said what are you talking about. There’s tons of fibre around here. It maybe farther away, it maybe a little more expensive-there’s no shortage, so why are we talking about rail-ties? That means we’re exporting jobs, we’re endangering our environment, we’re cutting off the possibility of using that plant what it was intended for which is forest bio-mass.”
Hilton says that the increased use of rail ties would mean the loss of 50 to 60 permanent jobs in addition to 10 to 15 indirect jobs that would result from the use of roadside residual material.
He says you can use the analogy of a sleeping giant as to why the group only came forward now despite Atlantic Power having held an open house last summer on the proposal.
“We ended up going. They said there was about 70 people there; I think there was probably at times there was more staff then there were visitors. Some of us didn’t buy it and it took us a while to get the community aware and then we have meetings and then we’re told, we’re fear mongering, we’re being paranoid-well yeah we are. We’re concerned.”
Although Council did not directly address the committee’s concerns and their request to ask Atlantic Power to withdraw their proposal, Mayor Walt Cobb said it will be going to committee who will decide if any action can be taken.
“We sent a resolution accepting the application subject to environmental assessment and we’re going to leave it with the experts. I read some of this stuff that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I’m not the expert and you can make numbers say just about anything.”
Cobb says he still does not understand why people do not get involved in the consultation period when it’s happening and instead wait until after.
Atlantic Power, which has permission to burn burn 5% of its mix of fibre in shredded rail ties is seeking to increase that by 10 to 20 percent on an annual basis up to 50%.
They have not burned any since 2010.
The proposed permit remains under review by the province’s Ministry of Environment.