Wednesday, October 24, 2012

City Council members ask many questions of Port representatives over Pinnacle Pellet Project

As we mentioned over the weekend, Monday's City council session was destined to be one of the more interesting of gatherings of late, with a number of delegations making presentations to Council.

Among the most anticipated of the evenings entertainment, was a review of the Pinnacle Pellet Plant project courtesy of the Port of Prince Rupert.

Responding to a request to appear, originally issued by Councillor Joy Thorkelson a few months ago, the Port of Prince Rupert made a presentation to Council updating the process and progress of the Pinnacle Pellet Plant project.

The Port sent two representatives to Council Chambers for the update, a session which accounted for  over 1 hour, of the nearly 3 hour council session.

Offered up to the eager councillors for the  hour long research session were Andy Cook and Ken Veldman, who faced a number of inquiries from council members  about the contentious project on the west side of the city.

After about a twelve minute technical explanation of what is planned for the development by Andy Cook, the Mayor turned the forum over to the city Councillors.

Leading off the question period was Councillor Carlick-Pearson with questions about the construction phase and impact on the neighbourhood, followed up by Councillor Thorkelson who focused on who was responsible for the mitigation process and if the Port is in charge of enforcing issues of concern with Pinnacle.

Councillor Thorkelson also had issues over perceived "flippant" remarks in the past on other Port Projects, seeking clarification on the chain of complaint should people have concerns on the latest development.

Councillor Rice followed up on Councillor Thorkelson's concerns and as might be expected, the environment was high on her agenda for discussion. Seeking out clarification of the Environmental Assessment of the Port compared to what Federal Environmental Assessments might have in place.

Councillor Rice also had questions on employment levels at the Pinnacle Plant upon completion and operation.

Councillor Garon took over the questioning from Councillor Rice seeking clarification on the method of use for monitoring equipment regarding the site and how it will track any dust issues from the project.

Councillor Ashley had issues on the monitoring process as well, asking whether the Port will be keeping the lines of communication open between the development and the city. She also had bylaw and safety concerns over the project, particularly regarding the noise bylaw and how the turn around time of the vessels calling on the plant may impact on that.

She also had concerns over the presentation phase of the Pinnacle project and the perception of promises that "were made" regarding the model presented, a prospectus which featured a waterfront walk for the area near the Pinnacle Plant.

While the Port couldn't offer up any kind of answer on the Pinnacle sketches, that question offered up the chance for Ken Veldman to provide an update on the Port's vision for waterfront access for the public in the city, which seems focused east of Kwinitsa.

Councillor Kinney followed up with his thoughts on the project, expressing confidence that safety concerns will be addressed by the Port and welcoming the prospect of further development in the city which will lessen the tax requirements on the city's residents.

The conversation then circled the Council chambers again with Councillors Rice and Thorkelson putting forward their final thoughts on accountability from the Port to the residents of the city.

The Mayor brought an end to the lengthy interrogation, thanking the pair for their time and information provided, advising that they were welcome to stick around for the public input section of the council session.

You can review the wide ranging discussion from the city's website coverage of the proceedings. ( you can listen to the audio feed here, the video feed has yet to be posted to the city's website)

The opening statements from the Port begin at the 1:45 mark, running to about the 13 minute mark.

The Q and A from the councillors picks up the remainder of the session from 13 minutes to about 1 hour and 9 minute mark.

You can also review our archive material on the Pinnacle Pellet Plant, which can be found here.

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