A major resource project planned for the BCR Industrial site in Prince George is no more.
Today (Wednesday), West Coast Olefins announced it is not proceeding with its $5.6 billion dollar petrochemical plant.
CEO Ken James spoke exclusively with MyPGNow.com
“In balance, we said it is not worth the risk and we decided to move the other project forward and so we have withdrawn. We have informed the Environmental Assessment office that we have withdrawn the project from their process. We are cancelling it and we are not proceeding with it.”
James noticed the plant was creating a lot of confusion with its separate $1.5 billion natural gas extraction project near Pineview.
“And the natural gas liquids recovery project has some tremendous potential along with some really good economic and environmental features to it. We just didn’t want to risk a very good project with the confusion over ethylene and polyethylene, which is very poorly understood in the community.”
As for what it is next for the petrochemical plant, James stated West Coast Olefins will now look to other suitors either in the north or across the province who want to take this on.
“It’s a big opportunity. It’s going to be up to the province and the people of the north to decide what they want to do with this resource. This is a huge resource opportunity for northern BC and the people will need to decide whether they want to exploit it, ship raw resources, or do they want to do value-added processing.”
James spent time in PG during the 1970s and ’80s and graduated from PGSS during that time. He noted the opposition to such projects was also a deterrent.
“This was a very active and industrial town and most of those businesses are no longer there. I’ve watched even in the last three years businesses being proposed and the amount of opposition and I look at the city and see stagnating growth and I feel the city needs this. I just don’t see a clear path.”
The plastics plant was first introduced by West Coast Olefins in August of 2019 at the House of Ancestors.
In May of 2020, the company briefly relocated the project to McLeod Lake following a virtual town hall meeting hosted by the BC Resources Coalition.
However, seven months later, the project returned to its original location at the BCR Industrial site in PG after an agreeable site could not be reached with the McLeod Lake Indian Band.
Natural gas extraction plant still a go
Even with the petrochemical plant in the rearview mirror, West Coast Olefins is still moving forward with its natural gas extraction plan.
“We are going to proceed with the NGL recovery which does not have any emissions and has zero particulate 2.5 issues, which are sensitive to the airshed, no odors and at the end of the day by cleaning up the carbon fuel system for the province, we actually end up being carbon negative,” said James.
“It is going to be a 1.5 billion dollar project and it is still going to lead to 150 high-paying, good quality jobs and thousands of construction jobs.”
James would like construction to begin sometime next year after it receives regulatory approval.
Dr. Zoe Meletis was an administrator for Too Close 2 Home and had a change.org petition demanding an independent review on the WCO plant that had 411 people sign it.
She added the Pineview resident’s petition has 1,512 against the project and 45 for the plant.
In addition, Dr. Annie Booth suggested the proposed plant would eventually kill UNBC, claiming nobody would want to come to Prince George.
Booth went a step further during a September city council meeting and stated this would likely lose healthcare workers, adding she conducted surveys that showed doctors and nurses were aware of the health consequences of such a project.