The City of White Rock has voted to back the City of Surrey's application for intervener status in the court action regarding a new direct-transfor coal facility.

White Rock’s coal concerns ‘not germane’ to court challenge

White Rock to back Surrey's quest for intervener status in coal-facility dispute

The City of White Rock will back the City of Surrey in its application for intervener status in the court action challenging Port Metro Vancouver’s approval of Fraser Surrey Docks’ new direct-transfer coal facility.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin announced the decision last week, during the final council meeting of the term.

Made during a closed meeting held immediately prior to the public proceedings, it resulted from legal advice regarding the city’s own odds of both being accepted as interveners in the case, and, if so, their odds of success.

“Neither one looked good,” Baldwin told Peace Arch News Tuesday.”We felt rather than waste money on this, we will support Surrey and New Westminster.”

Surrey’s decision to apply was made Oct. 20.

Port Metro Vancouver in August issued a permit to Fraser Surrey Docks for the construction and operation of the new $15-million facility, which is anticipated to be operational next fall. The project will see at least four million tonnes per year of U.S. coal roll through White Rock and Surrey to FSD, from where it will be barged to Texada Island for reloading to ocean-going ships.

PMV’s approval followed nearly two years of considerable opposition to the plans from environmentalists, residents and other groups concerned about the terminal’s potential harm on the environment and air quality.

The court challenge – by the South Surrey-based Communities and Coal Society, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change, Christine Dujomovich and Paula Williams, represented by Ecojustice Canada Society – was filed in September and calls for a judicial review of the decision.

Minutes of Surrey council’s Oct. 20 meeting note intervener status “will allow the City of Surrey to work with the proponents as they work through the process.”

“Because Surrey will be directly impacted it is important for Surrey to be at the table to ensure the city’s interests are addressed appropriately as the work goes forward.”

Baldwin said the case is essentially about where the facility will be located. While White Rock is “not anywhere near the site… we do have to put up with the rail traffic,” he said.

“That, in the court’s eyes… is not germane to the question.”

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