FortisBC's Eagle Moun-tain Woodfibre Gas Pipeline project, which reaches into Coquitlam, is one step closer to construction.
Monday, Coquitlam council endorsed staff comments on the project's provincial environmental assessment application, which, if approved, would pave the way for the twinning of an existing natural gas pipeline between the north end of the city and Squamish.
While staff did not foresee any barriers to construction, they did use the environmental assessment as an opportunity to express concerns about noise that could come from the increased capacity at the Eagle Mountain compressor station.
"The existing compressor station can be heard by residents in the surrounding neighbourhood," said a staff report. "In the early morning hours, from midnight to 4 a.m., the existing compressor station may be the most significant contributor to noise levels."
Should the expansion of the pipeline and the station lead to increased volume levels, staff said they would expect FortisBC to implement noise mitigation.
City manager Peter Steblin also noted during Monday's meeting that the report to council is the first time the municipality has put in writing a commitment from FortisBC to improve some of the hiking trails in the area. A trail between Eagle Mountain Park and the Coquitlam Crunch has been on the table since the announcement of the project, which the city said is mitigation for the loss of some park use resulting from construction.
With the city signing off on the environmental assessment, FortisBC expects to receive the approval of its oil and gas permits by June 2015. If all goes according to plan, construction could be starting in the fall and the line could be operational by summer 2016.
FortisBC wants to twin its existing line between the north end of the Coquitlam watershed and a small-scale liquefied natural gas project at the Woodfibre industrial site in Squamish. The work would also require the addition of two new electrically driven compressor stations on Eagle Mountain. The company said the work is necessary to improve the efficiency of its pipeline system.
An 18-storey apartment building proposed for the foot of Austin Avenue near North Road will go to a public hearing but several Coquitlam councillors had questions about the project.
Some of the neighbouring properties are primed for redevelopment, said Coun. Mae Reid, who said a more comprehensive proposal is needed for an area considered to be a gateway into the community.
She noted that a small strip mall that is "ripe for development" sits right next to the proposed tower on the northeast corner of the Austin and North Road intersection. If the two properties were somehow combined, it would create a better project, she said.
Coun. Brent Asmundson concurred but stopped short of a proposal put forward by Reid that called for a certain number of units to be sold without parking. He pointed to a development on Burnaby Mountain where the developer had to buy parking from the university to accommodate its tenants.
"You have terrible parking on the street," he said of the proposal at Austin Avenue and North Road. "People have vehicles and there is a problem there now."
Council voted unanimously in favour of giving the first three readings to the zoning amendment bylaw and the proposal will now go to a public hearing.