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Council rejects proposal for underground propane facility in Alma

Council appreciated how important propane is to the agricultural community but felt this was the wrong location
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Alma residents filled the Alma Community Centre to capacity in a show of their opposition to the proposed propane facility. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday

MAPLETON – Alma will not be the site of a large underground propane storage facility after zoning for the proposed site was unanimously defeated at a Tuesday evening Mapleton council meeting. 

Core Fuels proposed to bury four propane tanks that would hold nearly one million litres of propane on Wellington Rd. 7 on the outskirts of Alma. 

This was met by resistance from residents who formed the Concerned Citizens of Alma (CCA) as a response. They worried about the fallout of a potential explosion, proximity to a residential area, lack of information and too much of an experiment as the first facility of its kind in Canada.

Amanda Reid acted as a delegate for the CCA and hammered in their message to council — it’s too risky and they don’t want this here.

“There is always a risk of human error,” Reid said. “Is this the kind of risk the Township of Mapleton and our council can accept?”

Reid presented a final petition with 210 signatures from residents in Alma which represented nearly every household in town. 

James Core of Core Fuels defended the proposed operation as completely safe and described Core Fuels as a small family company looking to expand their important operations for customers in the county.

He explained that putting the tanks underground makes it safer as the tanks aren’t exposed to potential fire hazards.

“Through conversations with risk management engineers and TSSA representatives, we are led to believe that they are excited to work on this project and think that the safety of this site will be second to none in the county,” Core said.

He expressed total faith in fire chief Rick Richardson and the Mapleton Fire Department to address any emergency that can arise.

Richardson also backed up this claim and said the volunteer firefighters have propane training on agricultural operations. 

Although council appreciated Core Fuels as a responsible local business and acknowledged how important propane is in a rural community, they felt it was the wrong location for the facility. 

“As council has said, we don’t feel it is the right fit,” mayor Gregg Davidson said to Core. “It’s too close to the residential community for this size of a propane facility.”

Council unanimously denied the zoning changes in a recorded vote.

Davidson recommended Core keep in touch with town staff for an alternate location. 

In a post-meeting interview, Reid said CCA would be fine with a different facility as long as the risk contours didn’t put people in jeopardy.

She said she was pleased that council listened to residents’ concern about the proposed location.

“We are overwhelmed with the fact that they were unanimously defeated and we are happy that we can move forward with feeling safe in our community,” Reid said.