Duke Point is a possible site for a Waste to Energy Facility. Barged solid waste would be shipped from the Lower Mainland and then incinerated at Duke Point. If the project goes ahead the estimated opening would be in 2018.
Duke Point History
Back in the 1970s concerned citizens did not want more development in the harbour and recommended an alternative site at Duke Point.
It was this group’s actions which led to federal government intervention. A precedent setting federal inquiry under the Canadian Ports and Harbour Planning Committee was held and testimony gathered.
At the time the Nanaimo Harbour Commission had proceeded with its plan to develop the harbour. Up to that point the Nanaimo Harbour Commission relied on a retired oceanographer’s findings. But the City failed to notify the federal government’s environment minister. The result was that Ottawa ordered a halt to the harbour project.
It was 25 years later that Duke Point was chosen as the site for further port development, which was originally recommended by the concerned citizens of Nanaimo.
Duke Point ferrochromium smelter
Plans for the ferrochromium smelter began in the 1980s and a site near Jack Point in Cedar was chosen. The smelter was approved by Nanaimo City Council even though it would have meant constructing the facility on public parkland.
The New Jersey based company seeking to build the plant was almost cleared to proceed, but lacked one provincial permit. Additionally, there had been no independent environmental assessment.
It was at that point the City Council was confronted by a massive citizen protest operating under the name Nanaimo District Ferrochromium Blockade. The protest march of approximately 1500 citizens found its way to the lawns of Nanaimo City Hall. Council back-pedaled on their decision.
Duke Point gas-fired electrical power plant
In the early 1990s prominent Nanaimo business and civic leaders welcomed the idea of a Duke Point gas-fired electrical power plant even though it had been rejected by other island communities.
There were widespread protests against the Duke Point Gas Plant proposal prior to the 2002 municipal election. Ironically, the mayor who supported the power plant project won the mayoral race. Even though there were numerous environmental concerns provincial authorities provided clearance of the project.
At the time the Nanaimo City Council cleared the project. This didn’t stop the group of Nanaimo concerned citizens and they took the regulatory body’s decision to the Appeal Court of BC, where they prevailed after a second hearing. It was at that time that BC Hydro opted to cancel the project rather than launch an appeal.
Once again Nanaimo’s Duke Point is back in the news. What will Nanaimo residents think of having Lower Mainland garbage burned in their backyard? Will any one on City Council listen?