Source Energy Services' facility in Wembley (Emma Mason, MyGrandePrairieNow.com staff)
Some Wembley residents are raising their concerns about a possible bylaw change that would affect rail transloading facilities, like the one in the works by Source Energy Services. The change would move facilities like that from a discretionary use, which requires public consultation before changes are made, to permitted use, meaning the public would not need to be informed of future changes.
More than 60 people showed up to an informal information session on Tuesday to share the information they have compiled on the project so far. Resident Sarah Roberts helped lead the session and is opposed to the change.
“They’re just trying to change our bylaw to let them do what they want so that we don’t get a say. We’re very upset about it and we feel our council is not listening.”
In a statement, Source Spokesperson Annie Dormuth says, even if the bylaw was changed, Source would still need town approval to make any future changes like adding new buildings or changing what products are brought through there.
“Amendment of the bylaw does not give Source the unfettered ability to change the nature of its operations. If Wembley Town Council approves the bylaw amendment Source will still be required to obtain a development permit before constructing additional buildings or facilities or changing the use of the land.”
Roberts claims issues with Source’s project go far beyond just the recent proposed bylaw change.
“Our town is catering to this big company and by phase three they want tank farms right in our city limits; they want flare stacks and potentially a pipeline. It’s hazardous to our community; it’s dangerous; they’re not considering the health and safety risks of it and at the end of the day we have an industrial park there that nobody’s going to want to put their business by.”
The town will be holding a public hearing on the proposed bylaw change on July 22nd in the Helen E. Taylor School gym at 8 p.m. The hearing will give people a chance to speak directly to town council members.
Wembley CAO Noreen Zhang says she understands people are upset but argues the best way to be heard is at the hearing.
“From the administrative point of view, we are following the process on how these types of land use bylaw amendments are being handled. Setting the public hearing is one of the ways that the public can be heard by council so that they are aware of what the residents’ concerns are and how they actually feel about the application.”
Those who are unable to make the meeting can submit a written statement instead which must be at the town office before noon on July 18th.