Business

Poll on coal exports released on eve of Metro vote

Much of the coal that moves through Metro Vancouver is handled at Deltaport by Westshore Terminals. - File
Much of the coal that moves through Metro Vancouver is handled at Deltaport by Westshore Terminals.
— image credit: File

A new poll shows broad support for maintaining the jobs tied to B.C.'s coal industry but it reveals opinion is somewhat split on coal exports.

The industry-sponsored poll of B.C. residents by Angus Reid Public Opinion found 49 per cent said coal exports through B.C. ports shouldn't be restricted or reduced in light of the impact on jobs in coal mines, railways and ports, while 36 per cent support export limiting coal shipments to fight climate change.

Many of the questions asked in the poll highlight the threat of job loss and economic impact if the coal industry is curtailed – 72 per cent of respondents agreed B.C. "can't afford to lose the 26,000 direct and indirect family-supporting jobs created by mining and exporting coal."

But the results are less rosy for Fraser Surrey Docks, which wants to build a controversial new coal export terminal that would transfer U.S. thermal coal from trains onto barges.

The poll found 41 per cent oppose U.S. coal exports from B.C. ports (29 per cent of them support handling only B.C. coal), compared to 40 per cent who support all coal exports.

Respondents were also divided on whether local cities should be able to restrict the export of coal from local ports.

The poll questions did not raise the issue of coal dust from terminals or trains, which some Metro Vancouverites consider a health risk.

Metro Vancouver's board votes Friday on a resolution to oppose increased coal exports through the Fraser River estuary following a series of delegations on the issue.

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