Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Ltd. is now burning coal in wood burning devices, and SLRD board members are concerned that this new practice could lead to poor air quality and environmental problems.
John Turner, director of Electoral Area D, brought the issue to council’s attention at Thursday’s SLRD meeting.
“They’ve introduced up to 15 per cent of the fuel, being coal, into a wood-burning piece of equipment,” said Turner.
He pointed out that the trial began at the end of May, and seems to have “flown under the radar” until now.
Turner has discussed the matter with neighbouring Howe Sound communities, because the mill is actually outside of SLRD boundaries, on the Sunshine Coast. He is concerned that air quality, as a result of this change, could become a concern for the entire region. Burning coal may raise levels of sulphur dioxide and metals in the air.
The board decided to ask the Ministry of Environment to convene an information session among representatives of Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, ministry staff and local governments, before they consider amending their permit, which would allow Howe Sound Pulp and Paper to continue conducting its tests.
Turner said the ministry has responded by including the matter on the agenda for the Air Quality Management Plan meeting on Oct. 10, which will include representatives from Area D and the SLRD.
Porteau Cove sewage plans approved
The board of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District has finally given its stamp of approval on the Porteau Cove development’s master plans for sewer, water and storm water management.
Tom Watson, a planning consultant from Triton Environmental Consultants Ltd., a company hired by the SLRD to assess the sewage treatment plan, presented his findings at Thursday’s council meeting.
Watson recommended they stick with treating sewage to a secondary level, rather than take the next step and treat to a tertiary level, as Whistler currently does.
Watson said a higher level of treatment is not warranted, as the developer’s plans meet the municipal sewage regulation standards and provincial guidelines. He explained that the relative cost of more advanced treatment — estimated at about $1 to $2 million — would produce “negligible returns.”
The board accepted Triton’s findings and the Porteau Cove development will continue to move forward.
“The sewer master plan was contingent on this peer review… on the outfall, so once they accepted that, the way was clear,” explained Steve Olmstead, director of planning and development for the SLRD. “That was the only outstanding issue with the sewage disposal systems as they were proposed by the developer.”
Triton compared the region with other areas of Canada, and found coastal communities are most likely to leave sewage untreated, or treat at a primary level. Of municipalities discharging directly into Pacific Coastal waters, about 80 per cent have primary treatment only.
Not all council members were pleased with Watson’s recommendations; two council members voiced opposition to the decision.
Whistler Councillor Eckhard Zeidler pointed out that Whistler aims to achieve best practices, and suggested the additional cost to treat sewage to a tertiary level could be passed on to each of the new units in the development.
What plans for the Duffey?
At the UBCM conference this week, Lillooet Mayor Christ’l Roshard plans to ask Ministry of Transportation representatives to review the condition of Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet, commonly referred to as the Duffey Lake Road.
“Every time there is a slip or a failure in the highway, they take the pavement off and put it down to the gravel so they can just keep grading it, but if they keep doing that every time there is a little bit of a road failure, we’re going to end up with no pavement,” explained Roshard.
Council members want the ministry to advise them of their short and long-term goals for maintaining and upgrading that section of road.
Roshard said during a summer tour of the area with Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, he made it clear that the roads weren’t high on the ministry’s priority list, as there are higher fatality rates in other parts of the province.
She said he also pointed out that the ministry has committed $40 million to fixing bridges in the area.
A bigger road issue mentioned at Thursday’s SLRD meeting was the possibility of a catastrophic slip along the Duffey Lake Road between Lillooet and Pemberton.
“If that were to go, that would be one more link with Whistler to the Interior that wouldn’t be there anymore,” Roshard said.
Board members decided to ask the ministry to also advise the board on the likelihood of a catastrophic failure at identified problem locations, pointing out the road is extremely unsafe, and will more than likely give way some day.