By: The Working Forest Staff
The Williams Lake Tribune — Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.’s request to upgrade and expand production at its plant in Williams Lake was unanimously approved by city council at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
According to the report by The Williams Lake Tribune, final issuance of the permit, however, will not be approved unless Pinnacle’s application for an amended air quality permit with the Ministry of Environment is granted and its storm drainage design is approved by the City’s engineer.
Before council voted, several members of the public spoke against the development permit, many suggesting it is time the plant be moved from its present location at the southwest end of the lake.
Greg and Melinda Mitchell who live in the 1400 block of South Lakeside Drive told council the plant is in the wrong location.
“It’s a mess all the time,” Greg said. “It’s time to move it, not make it bigger.”
Melinda said she felt the citizens of Williams Lake were angry at council.
“This is in the wrong place and you all know it,” she said. “We should stop this big ugly eye sore in the middle of the city.”
Robin Fofinoff said every time she drives to and from home she is saddened when she sees the plant.
“I’m totally not against Pinnacle Pellet, and I totally agree we need jobs, but with the years that it’s still here I am getting angry and just sad,” she said. “It’s all I see when I drive in from work, when I drive back home from vacation. If we keep it there we are going to lose a lot of people in Williams Lake.”
Fofinoff suggested it could be moved where PAL Lumber was or to a more industrial location rather than a recreational location.
Ron Myhre, the general manager of Pinnacle, said because the plant was built in 2004, it is needing to pursue expansion because they are going to be receiving different fibre than in the past.
“We are looking at a lot of different residuals from the forest, that the operation is not designed to process,” Myhre explained, adding they are working with Tsi Del Del Enterprises on utilizing fibre from burned trees, slash piles that would normally be burned, cleaning up the forests and creating fire bands.
The company is committed to investing at a time when there’s a downturn, he added.
Percy Guichon, a board member of Tsi Del Del Enterprises, told council he fully supports the development permit.
“We provide biomass to Pinnacle and that has kept our companies working,” he said.
Another resident said the City needs to challenge the Pinnacle upgrade itself so that it is basically camouflaged with no noise, more landscaping, things that promote the secondary fibre industry.
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