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West Coast Olefins project now outside city jurisdiction

The project will be discussed at the Regional District board meeting on Nov. 18
NGL Recovery Project Map
Map of the proposed area for NGL Recovery Project.

Prince George City Council has received an update on two proposed West Coast Olefins projects within city boundaries.

While one project proposed by West Coast Olefins has been cancelled, another project remains on the table but is outside of the city’s jurisdiction.

Deanna Wasnik, director of planning and development, explained during city council’s Nov. 8 meeting that the company’s Ethylene Plant Project, which was to be located in the BCR site, has been cancelled and withdrawn from the regulatory process.

The company first announced the $5.6 billion Ethylene Plant Project in July 2019, which was intended to produce polyethene in plastic pellet form which could then be shipped to Asia using the CN Rail line to Prince Rupert.

The withdrawal of this project has been confirmed by the Government of British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office.

However, the company is moving forward with its proposed NGL Recovery project, which would be located on a 320-acre parcel of land on the eastern edge of the city in Pineview.

This project would be divided into four components including an extraction plant, access road, NGL pipeline, and separation plan.

Wasnik explained that although portions of the NGL Recovery Project are located within the city’s boundaries, the regulatory body at this stage of the project is the BC Oil and Gas Commission (OGC).

The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is the regulatory body for the portions of the project located in the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG) since the lands in question are designated within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“Should the ALC support the project components, an official community plan and zoning bylaw amendment would be required by the Regional District prior to the establishment of the extraction plant,” explained Wasnik.

Coun. Cori Ramsay also noted that because the portion of land within the city’s jurisdiction is already zoned appropriately the matter will not be coming back to Prince George city council.

“The land on the city side of the project is already zoned for this and it will not be coming back to council for our consideration, the only piece that is going to local government is the extraction plant on the Regional District side, which they will be discussing on Nov. 18,” added Coun. Kyle Sampson.

Mayor Hall said he’s received a tremendous amount of questions regarding the role of council in this project and highlighted the fact that the land is within the Regional District’s purview – although the Mayor and three city councillors sit on the RDFFG board of directors.

“On that board we carry one individual vote,” said Hall, adding that over the last few months he’s heard misinformation that directors have more than one single vote.

“We have no more than one single vote per director and I will also say that the Mayor does not carry the day. I have one vote as do my board colleagues.”

Hall added that when this issue comes to the RDFFG meeting on Nov. 18, the directors will be dealing with the ALC process and then moving on from there.

“We take this business very seriously and so each one of us comes into this room having done a tremendous amount of homework and we know the issues inside and out and we are in that same position when we go over to the regional district,” added Hall.

Earlier in the meeting, Paul Tiefense, president of the BC Resources Coalition presented to council regarding the proposed West Coast Olefins projects.

He said he was concerned regarding a request from the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, on behalf of the local group Too Close 2 Home to refer the West Coast Olefins project to an independent panel of experts.

In September, Dr. Marie Hay and Dr. Annie Booth, representatives from Too Close 2 Home,  spoke to council against the project citing a litany of health concerns linked to similar complexes elsewhere.

Although the ethylene project has now been cancelled, Pineview area residents have also been vocal in their opposition against the NGL Recovery Project.

“All we want to do is make sure that when we have an Environmental Assessment (EA) process we stick to an EA process,” said Tiefense.

“We just need to get going and we need to try it and all of us need to be responsible in making sure it is environmentally conscious and socially acceptable.”

He said he was concerned that projects are being stopped before they even reach the EA stage.

“We have to be diligent about following the process,” added Tiefense.

Hall added that it’s important for the city that Prince George is a place considered by developers and investors.

“It is a myriad of folks that we want to have consider Prince George as a great place to invest whatever that business might be. We know full well there is going to be regulation in industry projects. We get that and we are familiar with that. It is part of the process,” said Hall.

“We can work within those parameters.”