Council won’t budge on coal facility project

SURREY – Port Metro Vancouver has yet to convince Surrey city council to support its proposed coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD).

PMV president and CEO Robin Silvester gave a 20-minute presentation at city hall on Monday night, with a 15-minute question-and-answer period with council, detailing the corporation’s ongoing plans and addressing issues raised by citizens. He noted that the corporation has not set a date to announce its decision on whether or not the facility is built.

“We’re working through now assessing both the environmental impact assessment and all the feedback we’ve received,” said Silvester. “Once we’ve completed that to our satisfaction, then we’ll be issuing a decision.”

About 80 residents attended the presentation to protest the facility.

Surrey council publicly opposed the coal terminal expansion last October, following a plea from residents and an 11,000-signature petition. Councils in White Rock and Delta have also voiced their opposition.

Coun. Judy Villeneuve questioned Silvester on PMV’s response to council’s About 80 protesters attended a presentation by Port Metro Vancouver president and CEO Robin Silvester before Surrey city council Monday to oppose PMV’s proposed coal facility at Fraser Surrey Docks. (Photo: JACOB ZINN) previous motion for a full health impact study and public hearing on the project, to which Silvester noted a public hearing was not in the cards.

“With regard to a public hearing, there’s no trigger for a public hearing through this process,” he told council. “There has been a large amount of public consultation. We also appreciate the input from council and other municipalities.”

< from page 1 Villeneuve criticized the environmental impact assessment (EIA) conducted by an independent third party hired by FSD, saying there were significant deficiencies, incorrect assumptions and "somewhat of a superficial analysis of the health and environmental concerns" in the document. She also cited a need for the public to know future plans for coal transport.

“I personally feel it’s premature to support this project until we really know what those long-term plans are,” said Villeneuve, whose comments garnered a round of applause from protesters.

Coun. Bruce Hayne, who chairs the city’s environmental sustainability advisory committee, noted that city staff take issue with storm water management, particularly with how water used to wash the trains would be treated.

“Washing down the rail cars so they don’t go back through our communities with dust in them is great, but what happens to that water and how is that water dealt with?” he asked. “Is it going into the Fraser River? Is it going into our storm water management system? That document didn’t really address those.”

Mayor Dianne Watts brought up rail safety, length of trains and emergency vehicle access to Crescent Road as some of the additional concerns of Surrey residents. She stressed the need for more stable slopes and banks along rail routes, but Silvester said those responsibilities fall under Transport Canada and BNSF.

“We are certainly alert to the issues, but we’re not the authority that has jurisdiction over those issues,” Silvester said.