Biofuel plant funding on Semiahmoo First Nation land withdrawn: MP

Member of Parliament for South Surrey-White Rock says financial support for a proposed biofuel project on Semiahmoo First Nation land has been withdrawn.

CityNews received a media advisory from MP Kerry-Lynn Findlay on Saturday, saying Natural Resources Canada will not be giving $14.4 million in funding to support the controversial project in White Rock.

Findlay says this project had been a concern for “many in the community who live, work, and recreate in adjacent neighbourhoods.”

She adds that Taurus (Andion), a renewable natural gas company set to take on this project, can now apply for funding in the future but would have to restart the process.

Taurus planned to build the plant on two hectares of land, near the Canada-U.S. border. The plant would take organized waste and turn it into biogas, which the company says will “be used as fuel in place to gas retrieved from harmful extraction methods.”

However, some locals opposed the plan, fearing the project would worsen air quality and cause unpleasant odours, among other issues.

Suzanne Smith with Clean Air Alliance says her group is hailing the news as a victory in their efforts to stop the project.

“I’ve been feeling that we haven’t been able to have our voice heard by our government leaders,” Smith said. “And so, within the last couple of weeks, we turned our efforts over to Jonathan Wilkinson’s office at Natural Resources Canada. We started sending a lot of letters in his direction and within a few weeks, this is good development.”

Smith says the group’s primary concern is about impacts to air quality in White Rock and South Surrey.

Last October, CityNews spoke to the President of Andion North America (now Taurus) who claimed that many of the fears expressed by locals were not based in reality.

“Everything is processed inside buildings and inside vessels, and then all of the air is through negative pressure sucked out of these vessels and buildings and put through a multi-step odour handling system,” he told CityNews.

“Generally speaking, this facility should not be emitting any odours outside of its, sort of, buildings,” Abrary added.

At the time, Surrey city councillor Linda Annis had also expressed concerns about the said project, urging the First Nation to reconsider the facility because it would “negatively impact nearby residential neighbours.”

CityNews has reached out to Findlay’s office and the Semiahmoo First Nation for more information.

With files from Hana Mae Nassar.

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