Word spreads in a small town.
Allegiance Coal found that out last Wednesday night when dozens of people curious about the Telkwa Coal project stopped into its open house that was meant only for closer neighbours of the project.
“[Wednesday] night was an invitation only meeting with the Cottonwood subdivision who are in the closest proximity to the project area,” Allegiance Coal director of environmental and government affairs Angela Waterman told The Interior News the next day.
She said that subdivision includes about 10 families.
“I think we’re at a stage where we’re still early in the process … We want to give them a kind of first look at it to see where we are before we go into a big open house where there could be 200-300 people there,” said Allegiance Coal chief operating officer Dan Farmer.
He said the company hopes to have a fact sheet with details on things like number of workers that would be hired, production numbers, and estimated timeline of the necessary process to get approval. Farmer added that decisions like how the coal would be transported away on rail — the maps at the meeting had a rail loop built east of Telkwa on the opposite side of the Bulkley River from Highway 16 — have yet to be finalized.
“We’ll have other events to voice their concerns. The plans are basically for input. It’s a planning process, a back and forth. It’s not us saying this is the way it is, it’s presenting something, an idea. We’re trying to get guidance from the community,” said Farmer.
Some of those ideas they were seeking guidance on included having a truck hauling coal down Coalmine Road every hour of the day and night during the week, resulting in a truck on the road every half-hour. Feedback from locals included concerns about dust and noise.
A bridge would also be built over Goathorn Creek.
The scope of the project is smaller than those of the past, stressed Waterman and Farmer.
“They had a much higher production rate, a much bigger area, and different infrastructure requirements,” said Farmer.
They also pointed out there is a reason for the name of Coalmine Road, with smaller scale mining operations being a part of Telkwa’s history.