06/05/2013 11:15 EDT | Updated 08/05/2013 05:12 EDT

Speakers question coal terminal expansion at port meeting

A controversial proposal to build a coal terminal in Surrey was top of mind for many of the speakers at Port Metro Vancouver's annual general meeting yesterday.

Around 20 people lined up to speak at the meeting, many of whom had questions about the proposed coal terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks.

“This possibility of accepting one of the most filthy commodities on the planet into the heart of Vancouver just behooves me,” said John Cantrell, one of the speakers.

The proposed transfer station, which would be built to handle up to 4 million metric tonnes of coal, has some worried about health concerns connected to coal dust.

But Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester says he only controls how things are shipped.

“If you want to raise the question of what is traded, that's a question that needs to be raised with the federal government, not the port,” he said.

“I don't have the ability to mandate, even, a public hearing, so there will not be a public hearing relating to the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal. But what we will continue to do is receive public input as we have done for a number of months now and we welcome that, and we'll continue to take that input into the review process.”

Port Metro Vancouver has the final approval on the proposal.