Williams Lake City Council needs to say no to the burning of rail ties once and for all at Atlantic Power’s biomass plant according to the Rail Ties Be Wise Group.
Delivering a delegation at Tuesday’s regular Council meeting was Angie Delainey who received a round of applause from the standing room only Council chambers.
“This is our last avenue to press upon our local leadership that its time to no to rail ties, and yes to fibre and to find a way to make that happen,” she told MyCaribooNow.
“If it means letting Atlantic Power go, I believe that there are other businesses that would step up to the plate or potentially look at partnerships like what if we were to buy it.”
Delainey delivered the same delegation at last week’s Central Joint Planning Committee where the recommendation to form an airshed committee with representation from the City of Williams Lake, CRD, Williams Lake Indian Band, and the Soda Creek band with the intent to work towards a new airshed management plan was supported.
The Panel of the Environmental Appeal Board upheld Atlantic Power’s permit amendment for burning rail ties in a 65-page decision earlier this month.
Rail Ties Be Wise is asking City Council to endorse a letter on their behalf to the Province supporting an energy purchase agreement that does not allow rail ties to be burned for clean energy.
“We know that the negotiations have to be finalized by September 30th of this year, however, this is the time,” Delainey said.
“This is when they need to take action because this is when BC Hydro is talking and negotiating what that clean energy act looks like and whether or not they want to include rail ties as part of that clean energy act.”
Council agreed to receive the information from the delegation for review and consideration.
Councillor Craig Smith said a letter of support on condition of Atlantic Power passing the environmental air quality standards was submitted by Council in 2016.
“I think it’s also very important to recognize that Council has advocated from the beginning very, very strongly to the province to ensure that they open up the fibre supply for these type of projects that will allow companies like Atlantic Power to have access to a cheap alternative fibre supply that will allow them to have access to ten to twenty-year contracts,” Councillor Scott Nelson said.
“We’ve taken the position that we want to see the government provide flexibility to AP. Just because they’ve got this opportunity to burn ties doesn’t mean that CN is all of a sudden going to be missile dropping rail ties into Williams Lake. That’s the last resort and that’s the most important thing to remember; it’s like a backup alternative to ensure that they’ve got fibre supply.”
Nelson added if the Province was concerned or indebted to the community, it would provide Atlantic Power a contract for a 10 to 20 year period with an existing fibre supply.
Councillor Ivan Bonnell said while Council can make a public statement in regards to the intent of burning rail ties, whether or not the Province or Atlantic Power would listen to Council is a different question.
“We’re not the authority that makes these decisions…I agree with the presenters tonight about finding that balance in between the industrial activity and respect for the environment and I’m hopeful that this process here will find that balance.”