Controversial proposed plastics factory moves from Prince George following environmental reaction

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Project to build $ 5.6 billion plastic plant in Prince George, British Columbia, was abandoned following backlash from community members concerned about air pollution at the facility petrochemical proposed.

West Coast Olefins CEO Ken James said he now hopes to build the plant near McLeod Lake, about 140 kilometers north of the city.

“It was not an easy decision,” James said at a live Facebook event on Thursday evening when he announced the move. ” [But] I understand the sensitivity of the Prince George airshed, so we decided to move it further north. ”

“We are not going to build factories where the community does not welcome us,” he said.

West Coast Olefins CEO Ken James speaking during a video session with the B.C. Resource Coalition. (B.C. Resources Coaltion)

West Coast Olefins plans to extract natural gas liquids, such as ethane, propane and butane, from a pipeline crossing the region. These by-products would then be used to make materials such as plastic and rubber for the Asian markets.

Originally announced in June 2019, the Prince George project quickly faced opposition from city environmental groups, fearing it would have a negative impact on air quality.

He received another blow in December when the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation announced that it was not supporting the project and was shocked by James’ comments to the contrary.

“Although we had very preliminary discussions with [West Coast Olefins], Lheidli T’enneh wishes to clarify that he does not support [the] projects proposed at that time, “said chief Lheidli T’enneh, Clay Poutney, in a statement at the time.

” Unfortunately, [West Coast Olefins] took action that damaged our relationships and raised fundamental concerns about the proposed projects. ”

Despite these setbacks, the facility has also received widespread support from the city’s business and political community, promising hundreds of jobs at a time when factories in the region are shutting down or shutting down.

But ultimately, said James, he wants to build a community where he is welcome.

The West Coast Olefins began exploring a McLeod Lake site in January, and in March the company released a joint statement with the McLeod Lake Indian Band announcing its intention to negotiate a benefit agreement if the plant had to move.

Chief Harley Chingee confirmed that discussions at Radio-Canada are underway and that he hopes the plant can provide long-term jobs for his community.

James estimates that there will be between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs during the construction phase and about 800 permanent direct jobs once the project begins.

James said that while he still believed Prince George would have been a good location for the facility, his business “strives to work with communities that strongly support its initiatives.”

He expressed concern that “hundreds” of people would now commute between Prince George and McLeod Lake daily to work at the plant, but ultimately said he thought the move was a “good compromise” “

James said he hoped construction would start in 2021, following a government approval process.

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