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Regional district stalemated on West Coast Olefins’ ALR exemption request; decision deferred

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George has put off a decision on whether to send West Coast Olefins’ request to allow non-farm usage of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve in Pineview to the Agricultural Land Commission.

West Coast Olefins is proposing to build natural gas liquids extraction plan on 12.9 hectares of land south of the city. Applications for non-farm use in the ALR are first considered by the local government, which must  then consider authorizing the application to be forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission for a final decision.

The board is split on the plan with Area D director Bill Empey, in whose area the plant is proposed, along with Lara Beckett and Kevin Dunphy, voicing their opposition to allowing the Agricultural Land Reserve exemption.

“I strongly oppose allowing this kind of industrial activity in an agricultural land area,” said Empey. “I disagree with postponing this and we have had enough information from the proponent  and those against it we should be able to make a decision on this.”

Director Dannielle Alan felt the board had enough information to make a decision Thursday.

City representatives on the board … Mayor Lyn Hall, Coun. Terri McConnachie, and Coun. Kyle Sampson … pushed the board to allow the process, which would likely see a public hearing, to proceed.

The Agricultural Land Commission Act and Regulations do not require a default public consultation process by a local  government  prior  to  it  considering  whether  to  forward  an  non-farm  use  application.   Regional  district policy directs that a public input stage  requesting written comments not be undertaken prior to committee/board consideration when further regional district  land use applications will be required. The West Coast Olefins proposal will require an application for Official Community Plan and  zoning bylaw amendments if it is forwarded to the ALC and receives ALC approval.  Therefore, a public input stage did  not take place prior to the application being forwarded to the committee for consideration.

The board was evenly split and a subsequent motion to postpone a decision on whether to send the application to the ALR was defeated and was a motion, put forward to Sampson, to send the matter to the ALR without a regional district recommendation.

The board took a recess to try and sort out the stalemate and upon return, chair Art Kaehn announced the issue would be deferred to another meeting.

The  facilities  associated  with  the  project  will  process liquids-rich  natural  gas from the  Enbridge  Westcoast Energy Pipeline to recover natural gas liquids  from  the  natural  gas  stream.    The  recovered  liquids  will  be  sold  and  transported to market or other facilities for additional processing. West Coast Olefins has abandoned its plan to process the liquids at a proposed plant in the BCR Industrial Site.

The residue gas from the  facility will be returned to the Westcoast Pipeline to provide a leaner, clean-burning natural  gas stream to all downstream consumers, according to West Coast Olefins.  The facilities are planned to be on stream in the  first half of 2024.

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