Thursday, June 26, 2014

Councillor Ashley to seek rezoning of industrial land within Prince Rupert, with an eye towards a ban on oil refinery development in the city

While the talk of oil refineries on the North Coast is still very much a far off idea, proponents may soon learn that any idea of placing one on industrial land within the City of Prince Rupert boundaries just won't be on.

On Monday evening, Councillor Anna Ashley advised Council that she plans to serve a motion of notice at the next Council session.

A discussion point that would seek to have all industrial land within the city's boundaries rezoned, so as to not allow for development of an oil refinery within the city boundaries.

The prospect of such activity in the region, would at the moment seem very much the thing of a far off proposal, rather than fact. Indeed, for many observers of the political and economic scene in British Columbia the prospect of such developments ever getting off the ground is doubtful.

However, with her notice of further discussion to come on the topic, Councillor Ashley is apparently not inclined to wait to see how those proposed developments may or may not progress.

Towards her theme on banning oil terminal development within municipal boundaries, the Mayor tasked the Corporate Administrator, City Manager and City Planner to all put together a report for Council.

An Information package Designed to provide Council Members some guidance as to what steps would be required to provide for such an industrial banishment on city land.

The two most often mentioned proposals for an oil refinery in the Prince Rupert area have been Eagle Spirit Holdings and Pacific Future Energy Corporation , both of which have provided mainly for press releases on the theme, but little else as far as a development plan.

You can review what information we have assembled on both proposals from the links below:

Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings
Pacific Future Energy Corporation

Should either of those two proponents ever find some forward momentum on their proposals, it would appear pretty clear that should Councillor Ashley find support among her council partners, that Prince Rupert won't be putting out a welcome mat for developments of that nature.

However, before Council gets around to banning any form of industrial development option, one might wonder if they should not at least investigate a bit just what is being proposed?

The prospect of an outright ban on any kind of industrial development, particularly one at such an early stage of the proposal process seems baffling.

There are two sides to every particular story and without having sought out further information on what either of the two most public proposals are all about, Council runs the risk of making pronouncements without knowing any actual facts about them.

Beyond the added workload that Council has once again suddenly deposited on staff members, a collective that Council admits are already overworked, there's the apparent theme here that the current Council members will somehow know what's best for the larger community.

Something as declarative as an outright ban of the development of any industry, is an issue that perhaps the entire community should have a say on, not just the six elected councillors and their Mayor.

If anything, this might be an issue best settled by a vote by public referendum. And by public vote, we suggest not by using Council's preferred version of consultation of late, that of the Alternate Approval Process.

For the moment, the idea of issuing a ban on any oil refinery proposal (particularly ones which have not  even been earmarked for Prince Rupert) seems to be an attempt to attach Council to a rather a topical item of the news cycle these days.

It's a rather curious move at this point in time, and one that seems to be thing of a spontaneous whim, without making for much thought as to the optics such a decision might deliver for other investors of different proposals beyond those of oil refineries.

Once again, Council seems determined to introduce topics to their Council deliberations seemingly out of far left field,  a path which doesn't appear to give much thought to the larger message that such actions tend to deliver beyond the city's boundaries.

You can review Councillor Ashley's heads up to Council through the City's Video Archive, her discussion points start at the 1 hour 26 minute mark.

For more items of note from City Council see our Archive page.

1 comment:

  1. It seems Council has seen the considerable anti-Enbridge sentiment and decided to hit that big ol' softball, making themselves look good for supporting a popular sentiment. But you're right, something as sweeping as this should be decided by the public or, at least, Council can give us a good reason as to why we need this ban.