A hearing into concerns over an air-quality permit issued to a galvanizing plant in South Surrey got underway Monday morning before the Environmental Appeal Board.
Taking place at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel, the proceedings involve Ebco Metal Finishing LLP and Metro Vancouver.
Nearly a dozen appellants are expected to address the three-member panel over the course of the hearing, including representatives of Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club, Nicomekl Enhancement Society and the Little Campbell Watershed Society, as well as neighbours of the Campbell Heights industrial-park business.
Prior to opening statements, the panel chair advised appellants that a decision would be based solely on submitted evidence, not on broader perspectives that appellants may choose to share.
Speaking as a director of the fish and game club, Bill Ridge showed the panel a video detailing the club’s extensive environmental activities and said “one of the things that scares us” about the galvanizing plant is the potential impact of emissions on the water at the 1284 184 St. hatchery, which is located south of the 18699 25 Ave. plant.
“If there’s any overflow from the Ebco thing, it comes on top of us,” Ridge said.
City council approved a bylaw regulating the 25 Avenue site for “light impact industry” in November 2012, following a public hearing, and a development permit was issued in July 2014.
Area residents first contacted Peace Arch News about the plant in early 2015, citing concerns about such a facility being built so close to East Kensington Elementary, as well as with the lack of public notice around it.
Later that year, they described estimated emissions from the plant – six tonnes per year – as “frightening… a major concern for the community.”
Ebco officials have rejected the criticisms as “scare tactics,” maintaining that the company was “conforming to all the laws.”
Metro Vancouver issued the company a permit to discharge air contaminants a year ago, effective until Feb. 28, 2033.
Monday, Phillip Milligan, past-president of the Little Campbell Watershed Society, referenced early assurances from the City of Surrey that no business requiring such a permit would be allowed in the area, and said the society wants “to see the plant reformatted into a plant that has zero emissions, or alternatively, just be shut down.”
Frank Mueggenburg, whose property is immediately south of the galvanizing plant, said he’d had no concerns until he learned that “there was a new plan” for what had been initially proposed as a warehouse.
“I think a lot of people dropped the ball on this particular development,” he said.
A lawyer for Ebco, prior to opening statements, cited concerns with certain documents that had been requested by the appellants – including copies of complaints that have been submitted to Metro Vancouver regarding the plant – describing them as containing “lots of material that, frankly, will be be admissible… for truth of content.”
The panel deferred a decision on the request, noting “we’d like to sort of hear where the cases are going,” before making a decision.
The hearing is scheduled for 10 days.