Coal industry comes to Cranbrook Council

Representatives from the Coal Alliance asked Cranbrook council to publicly support the province's coal industry.

  • Apr. 21, 2015 11:00 a.m.
Coal is loaded into a truck at a B.C. mine

Coal is loaded into a truck at a B.C. mine

Arne Petryshen

Representatives from the Coal Alliance — an industry group that promotes the coal industry in B.C. — asked Cranbrook council to publicly support the province’s coal industry.

At the Monday, April 13, city council meeting, Alan Fryer, who does communications work for the Coal Alliance, spoke to council about the alliance. Nic Milligan, from Teck Resources, Mike LoVecchio, Canadian Pacific and Troy Cook from the United Steelworkers, also involved in the Coal Alliance, were in attendance at the meeting.

Fryer said the alliance began in 2012, as the opposition to coal projects began to ramp up.

“It was interesting in terms of what we were seeing in opposition to coal coming together,” Fryer said. “It was loud, it was effective — rallying against proposed terminals in Oregon and Washington, and the movement kind of migrated across the border in 2012.”

He said the flashpoint was two things — Neptune Terminals on the North Shore in Vancouver applying for a upgrade permit to handle more coal, and Fraser Surrey Docks applied for a permit to become a coal transfer terminal and handle up to four million tonnes a year.

“This became the focus of the opposition movement in B.C.” he said. “And what we found, to put it bluntly, is the industry was getting clobbered in the media. Coverage was all one sided and frankly a lot of that was the industry’s fault, because no single member wanted to take ownership of the issue.”

So they formed the Coal Alliance as a means to speak on behalf of industry.

“What was happening with only one side of the story being told, there was an awful lot of information going around,” he said.

The Coal Alliance members include Teck, Westshore Terminals, Neptune Terminals, Fraser Surrey Docks, Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Mining Association of BC and Coal Association of Canada.

The alliance works closely with organized labour and others who support coal mining and shipping in B.C.

Fryer said he has a lot of respect for people in the environmental movement.

“I think industry is better because of them,” he said. “But there are also a lot of people in the anti-coal movement who I would not refer to as environmentalists, I would refer to them as anti-development groups, because their bottom line is that all fossil fuels, including metallurgic coal from B.C. should be left in the ground.”

Fryer said he’s seen a shift in the opposition. He said in Metro Vancouver, the movement is now focusing on blocking things like air quality permits and water discharge permits.

“So they’re really focusing their attention there,” he said. “And they’ve been focusing their attention on getting various motions and resolutions from different municipalities passed against the coal industry or against specific projects.”

The Coal Alliance made a video entitled Working with Coal to show the human side of the industry.

“The opposition likes to paint us as this kind of faceless, dark, Darth Vader-type entity,” he said. “What we wanted to do is get a voice and show the stories of the men and women who work in the industry either directly or indirectly.”

Fryer said the pushback by the Coal Alliance has helped to make the coverage of the coal industry more balanced then it was a few years ago.

“It really is pushing back with the facts and a lot of them are economic,” he said.

Nic Milligan, from Teck Resources, noted that the coal industry is a key economic driver and the transport of coal from the mine sites to terminals directly and indirectly employs 26,000 people.

“There are over 4,000 employees in the Elk Valley,” Milligan said. “The average wage of employees in the Elk Valley is $95,000 a year.”

The industry also accounts for $3.2 billion in economic activity and $715 million in tax revenues to all levels of government.

Milligan said Teck infuses over $1 billion into the B.C. economy per year and over $470 million into Metro Vancouver per year.

Troy Cook said that from the union’s perspective, concerns about jobs in the coal industry are at the top of the list.

“We’re getting behind the mule on this thing and helping out, because it’s super important to our membership,” Cook said, adding that’s why they are asking councils to support the alliance.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jim Webster displays one of the 50 ski chairs he recently purchased from the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR). After around 50 years of use at the Kimberley Alpine Resort, Webster is now selling the chairs for $500 each to raise funds for a local parks project. Paul Rodgers photo.
Jim Webster sells vintage Kimberley Alpine Resort ski chairs for park fundraiser

Marysville resident Jim Webster recently came into possession of some Kimberley history;… Continue reading

Stock photo courtesy Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca.
Double-murder trial in case of Cranbrook couple killed adjourned until January

A trial has been adjourned until January for two men charged with… Continue reading

Cranbrook Community Theatre (CCT) is presenting virtual visits and live letter readings with Santa, from Friday, Dec. 11, to Sunday, Dec. 13. Photo contributed
Cranbrook Community Theatre hosts Santa’s virtual visits and letter readings

Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, Santa Claus is at large… Continue reading

Hugs and slugs
Second Wave Hugs & Slugs: Stay calm, be kind

Hugs: Huge Hugs for Harriet Pollock for the 35 years of participation… Continue reading

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Update: Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections, 4 in ICU

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital, 4 in intensive care

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read