Port Alberni city council is taking its first steps in developing a position on shipping coal out of the Valley’s deep sea port.
City councillors voted to meet with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, Port Alberni Port Authority, and the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations and discuss the proposed coal port.
The motion also called for council to tour a coal mine operation in the North Island.
“The City of Port Alberni cannot stop coal from coming if it is OK’d by regulatory bodies,” Coun. Jack McLeman said. “I’m not opposed to someone having a coal mine. But we may not like what we get, so this is the last chance.”
The Raven Underground Coal Mine would be located in the Comox Valley. The mine is projected to produce approximately 30 million tonnes of coal over 16 years. The product would be trucked to a facility at Port Alberni’s deep sea port where it would be loaded aboard a vessel and taken to points abroad.
The city has attended a lot of meetings and has pored over information but hasn’t taken a position one way or the other with the project, McLeman said.
The city has interests in the issue despite its regulatory impotence. Coal will be shipped through city streets, creating wear and tear. The proposed shipping point is located near a prime residential area, the value of which may be impacted.
“We need to know what we can have a say in that we control,” McLeman said. “I want to have a discussion before it’s done to us. We may be told “no” but at least we tried.”
Coun. Hira Chopra spoke against the motion, saying it was premature to take a stand when the city knows it has no power.
“We need all the information first because we don’t know which way the wind will blow with this one,” Chopra said. Coun. Cindy Solda agreed, saying all sides need to be talked to first before any kind of position or stand was taken.
Talking to other parties who have similar interests isn’t taking a stand and can’t hurt, Mayor John Douglas said.