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'It's not a rumour': West Coast Olefins confirms move of petrochemical plant to north of Prince George

Original plan was to place the project in the BCR Industrial area
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West Coast Olefins CEO Ken James. (via Hanna Petersen)

A major project that was set to be built in Prince George will now be moved north of the city. 

In a video townhall, hosted by the BC Resources Coalition on Facebook, West Coast Olefins (WCOL) CEO Ken James confirmed the new $5.6-billion petrochemical plant that was supposed to be built in Prince George's BCR Industrial area is moving to the McLeod Lake Indian Band territory. 

"It's not a rumour," when James was asked if it was true the project was moving north of the city last night (May 7). 

"We've had a great relationship developed over the last few months with Chief Chingee and the McLeod Lake Band and we're very excited to be working north with them." 

The project was announced last summer that the company had secured a 300-acre site and planned to build a petrochemical project. 

“This will be the biggest project the city has ever seen,” West Coast Olefins president and CEO Ken James said at the July 24, 2019 announcement at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. 

Once fully operational, the project will create up to 1,000 permanent highly skilled jobs, while several thousands of workers will be required to support construction effort over a three-year period.

“We have been working on this project for about a year and have been working closely with the community for the past six months to gauge whether there was sufficient interest,” James said, at the time, there was an outstanding business case for Prince George.

“We look at a community this size, the education facilities, the river, the rail, the industrial park and a community that wants the jobs - that is a huge piece of it today. You cannot force a project into a community, not in today’s day and age.”

Last night, he touched on the feedback he had heard from Prince George, with many not wanting the project so close to the city. 

"I think if you recall early on in some of the public consultation meetings we had, one of our initial tenants and it has been a theme for us, is we aren't going to build plants where the community doesn't welcome us," James explained. "We heard many people 'this is too close to Prince George.'" 

"I lived there from '74 to '84 and I'll tell you, I understand the sensitivity of the Prince George airshed so we decided to move it further north, move out of the Prince George airshed, eliminate the need to bring a pipeline into Prince George and so we think it's better. It wasn't an easy decision because I believe we're now going to have some hazards of moving people up and down the road to work every day, so we tried to pick a good compromise."

It had been announced on March 5 that West Coast Olefins and the Mcleod Lake Indian Band had signed a binding term sheet that outlines the key terms that will underpin an Impact Benefits Agreement related to the Natual Gas Liquids Recovery Plant that WCOL was planning to construct within the McLeod Lake Indian Band's Territory. 

The Lheidli T'enneh First Nation had also said in December they had not provided support for the project in Prince George. 

"Although we have had very preliminary discussions with WCOL, Lheidli T’enneh wishes to clarify that it does not support either of WCOL’s proposed projects at this time," a news release stated. 

"Unfortunately, WCOL has taken steps that have harmed our relationship and raised fundamental concerns about the proposed projects."