Prince George, BC

Public Participation in Proposed Prince George Industrial Projects


Prince George, BC
Prince George, Erik Frankson, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

In late August, the ELC filed a submission on behalf of Too Close for Comfort asking the BC Provincial Government to conduct a Regional Assessment with public hearings regarding a proposed petrochemical complex project in the Prince George area.

While the proponent withdrew part of the proposal in late October, one of the three original projects remains a concern: a natural gas extraction plant that is proposed for agricultural land.

The Regional District of Fraser Fort George Planning Department must now decide whether the proponent’s application for non-farm use will proceed to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). If the application makes it to the ALC, they make the ultimate decision as to whether or not agricultural land can be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in order to build a gas extraction plant. In response to concerns that the removal of agricultural land will result in permanent loss, fragmentation and pollution of farmland and have permanent impacts on the viability of farming activities, the ELC provided a submission on behalf of our clients to the District outlining reasons the application to proceed to the ALC should be denied. In addition to the proposal being contrary to the local Official Community Plan and to ALC objectives, the submission points out that the public was denied a fair and open procedure in this process. Public feedback on the application was sought but the application was not made public, so the majority of people did not see what is proposed in the application and its potential impacts. Those who requested to see the documents were denied unless they filed Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, the results of which, they were originally told, would not be available until after the public comment period expired. Those who pursued a formal FOI request received the document but only days before the deadline for comment, which was not enough time to properly assess and provide informed feedback.

TIMELINE:

  • Aug 25, 2021: ELC files request on behalf of Too Close for Comfort requesting the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy appoint an Independent Panel to conduct an assessment by way of public hearings and direct the panel to conduct a Regional Assessment of all the projects.
  • Sept 20, 2021: clients appeared before Prince George City Council to 1.) Request a resolution to support the ELC’s request for a more comprehensive EA of the petrochemical complex and 2.) Request that PG Council gauge public opinion through holding a town hall or some other manner.
  • Oct 21, 2021: In response to Prince George councillors concerns about jurisdiction, ELC provides a memo indicating that the Prince George Council has clear legal authority to hold a town hall meeting or hearing to gauge public opinion about the Petrochemical Complex. The Council also has the jurisdiction to pass a resolution calling for a more comprehensive environmental assessment.
  • Oct 2021: Proponent withdraws the polyethylene plant proposal, but proceeding with the natural gas extraction plant on agricultural land.

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