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Commission rejects Co-op’s plan to rebuild bulk fuel depot

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. has been denied its request to tear down and rebuild a bulk fuel depot located alongside Hwy 2, east of Penhold.

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. has been denied its request to tear down and rebuild a bulk fuel depot located alongside Hwy 2, east of Penhold.

Officials from Red Deer Co-op and FCL in Saskatoon returned to Red Deer County’s Municipal Planning Commission on Tuesday with an updated application to replace nine tanks with 16 to 20 new tanks that meet higher environmental and safety standards.

FCL wants additional storage capacity to ensure a steady of supply of fuel to its customers, said Wayne Van Steelandt, marketing manager for Red Deer Co-op.

Eighty-seven per cent of the fuel shipped through the Penhold bulk depot is dyed diesel sold to farmers. The Penhold depot ran out of dyed diesel six times last year and twice this year, Van Steelandt said in a presentation to MPC on Tuesday morning.

“We have no alternate supply source in the region, which greatly impacts the cost and our service levels to our customers,” he said in a joint presentation with Dave Turk, petroleum operations supervisor from FCL in Saskatoon.

“The current location of the plant is ideal to provide a high level of service to Red Deer County farm customers, especially during feeding and harvest,” said Van Steelandt.

Moving the plant would raise the cost of providing that service, he said.

While councillors Penny Archibald and Jim Wood supported the proposal, they were outvoted by councillors Dave Hoar, George Gehrke, Jim Lougheed and MPC chair Reimar Poth, who shared concerns expressed in the staff report. Mayor Earl Kinsella was absent.

Presented by development officer Treena Miller, the staff report said a bulk plant of the type being proposed could not be allowed on land zoned for agriculture.

The report also expressed concern that the tanks would reduce property values, raise safety risks and discourage development in an area that has potential for commercial enterprises.

Archibald stated that she was on the council that approved the original plant and she could see no reason to deny the upgrade.

“You know, I hate to take something back that I’ve given someone. At the time, we thought all the safety concerns and the regulations were being met. But the new tanks are way safer, the environmental plan is way better, and what’s going to happen down the road, maybe can happen anyway.”

Wood argued that turning down the expansion was like telling him he could no longer have pigs or cattle on his farm, because there was going to be a residential development next door.

Hoar suggested allowing a temporary permit, limiting the depot’s lifespan to 15 years, for example, would be an adequate compromise. However, the temporary permit was not among the options presented to the commission.

Others argued that even with a time-limited permit, the depot contradicts the county’s land-use bylaw and raises significant concerns for people and development in the neighbourhood.

Van Steelandt said after the meeting that any alternatives to be taken will be determined by FCL’s head office in Saskatoon.