Before rezoning a hotly contested piece of rural land for a gas processing facility in Tomslake, the Peace River Regional District (PRRD) will host a second public hearing on the project
Encana Corporation wants to build a natural gas plant on the 46.9-acre plot to process liquids including propane and butane.
The project is facing resistance from the 25 residents in the area who have expressed concerns about increased traffic and having an industrial facility near their homes.
The first public hearing on the plant was held in Tomslake May 17.
In a delegation early this year to the PRRD board, residents of Blockline Road said that Encana had “not gained a social licence to be our neighbours.”
The plant was the subject of vigorous debate among PRRD directors June 11. The eventual vote to proceed with a second public hearing instead of the rezoning, didn’t sit well with some of the directors.
Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead said he would have preferred the PRRD move ahead on a rezoning decision, saying another public hearing was a waste of time.
He said the plant would provide jobs at a time when the industry is struggling.
“We’ve heard from the public,” he said. “I hear from people in the community everyday about their (businesses) going downhill. You don’t hear from those people at a public hearing.”
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman was also in favour of approving the rezoning, saying the PRRD had already made it a priority to develop gas processing capabilities in the Peace. This project, she said, fit in with that.
“When I look at the direction the regional district took years ago and the conversation we had around having the processing done locally before it leaves our (region), I can’t support the option to (delay) this,” she told the board. “There’s got to be a way.”
The residents of Blockline Road say they’re not opposed to the natural gas industry, only to the location of the plant.
The project has gained approval for non-farm use of the land by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and has also received permits from the Oil and Gas Commission (OGC).
Area B director Karen Goodings said now it’s time for the regional district to weigh in.
“I believe the OGC has the responsibility to address issues of industry and the ALC would approve a non-farm use of the land. I believe it is this board’s responsibility to address the concerns of the residents.”
A date for the public hearing is yet to be announced, but it will be held at the Peace River Regional District board office in Dawson Creek.