We write in response to Coldstream Councillor Maria Besso’s letter to the editor in The Morning Star.
The debate Besso refers to concerns a rezoning application to allow for the construction of a wood pellet plant 278 metres from Lavington Elementary School. Besso fails to mention that Coldstream’s zoning bylaw compels council to have due regard to the health, safety and well being of the public, which includes the children of Lavington Elementary. The bylaw further states that nothing in the zone shall become a nuisance, emit odour, dust, fumes or smoke, or cause a health hazard.
Besso asserts one should listen before they speak. However, to whom one listens is relevant. Expert opinion was placed before council by the proponent. Council was requested to, at the very least, retain their own expert, but they refused. Thus Besso listened to the proponent but felt it unnecessary to hear any other neutral expert opinion. Council, by a 4 to 3 vote, chose to give the rezoning third and final reading based on the proponent’s experts, and the lay opinions of the concerned public who packed the hearing room.
The mayor himself admitted council did not have the expertise to properly assess the application and then went about approving the rezoning. It is our position council was not properly informed and therefore not in a position to agree to the rezoning and commit to an irreversible industrial development. They failed to carry out their responsibility of safeguarding the health and safety of their citizens.
The pellet plant will emit particulate matter known as PM10 and PM2.5, increasing the amount of this pollutant that is already in the air. It will also increase truck and rail traffic, noise, pedestrian hazards, fugitive dust, and the risk of fire and/or explosion.
The truck traffic will be on School Road, the road Lavington Elementary fronts. No data on noise levels, explosion risk or pedestrian risk was provided by the proponent, a fact not mentioned by Besso
PM2.5 is matter smaller than 2.5 microns in size and cannot be seen. It travels deep into the lungs. Exposure to PM2.5 can be traced to premature death and adverse cardiovascular effects. It can cause asthma in children and studies have found long term exposure may be linked to cancer, infant mortality and low birth weight. The BC Lung Association found in a 2002/2003 study that there was no level of PM2.5, below which there are no health impacts.
Besso neglected to mention these facts.
Our own calculations of background PM10 and PM2.5 levels, when adjusted to account for the old style meter used in Vernon, indicate that these levels are already near or in excess of Provincial Air Quality Objectives. Besso also neglected to state that the PM2.5 and PM10 emissions from the pellet plant will, when added to these existing levels, result in levels which further exceed all Provincial Air Quality Objectives. This fact was made known to her at the public hearing. PM2.5 can travel in excess of 20 km, thus effecting all Coldstream residents.
Besso claims there are 3,000 centers in Europe using the drying technology proposed by the proponent. That fact is wrong.
The proponent stated to council there were 300 but as a result of correspondence with the manufacturer, it is apparent there are only 140.
This is one fact we have been able to check and we wonder what other facts as stated by the proponent are wrong.
The health of the children of Lavington Elementary should not be put at risk to obtain what Councillor Besso sees as a possible “model for green technology.”
Such a proposition is absurd and contrary to the responsibility of council to protect the health and safety of its electorate. If this facility were to be a model, it would not be located in such close proximity to a school.
Nobody can argue jobs are not important, and the proposed plant will create these jobs regardless of where (among the many viable locations) the plant is ultimately built. However the incremental logistical benefit realized by the proponent by locating the plant beside Lavington Elementary is not as valuable as the health of the children that attend this school.
Those of us who oppose the rezoning are labeled by Besso of “opposing and hampering all industry.”
Where she came up with this conclusion is unknown, but, it is untrue.
We oppose a pellet plant 278 metres from Lavington Elementary; we are determined to guard the health and safety of the children of Lavington Elementary, even if Besso and three other members of Coldstream Council are apparently not.
We are calling for a full provincial Environmental Assessment of the proposed facility, expert peer review of the proponent’s analyses, and baseline air quality monitoring before issuance of any further approvals.
This is the least our council representatives, including Besso, can also ask for.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of Lavington LIFE, representing over 600 residents of Lavington and area.
Geoffrey Neilsen, PEng,
Ken Fiddes, B.Comm, LLB
Tom Coape-Arnold, BA, BSc, MSc