Squamish Nation okays Woodfibre LNG with conditions

'Ground-breaking' deal for Howe Sound LNG plant gives first nation control over key decisions

Proposed Woodfibre LNG site on Howe Sound

The Squamish Nation has given its tentative green light to the proposed Woodfibre LNG project that would compress liquefied natural gas and send it out via tanker through Howe Sound.

The first nation issued an environmental certificate for the $1.6-billion project, subject to extensive conditions, after a vote Wednesday by aboriginal leaders.

Under a binding environmental assessment agreement signed by the company, the Squamish Nation gets final say over key decisions, including the contentious choice of cooling technology for the plant, as well as approval of management plans.

Environmental critics had objected to Woodfibre’s plan to use a seawater cooling system that they said could suck in and kill small fish like herring and discharge unusually warm chlorinated water to the ocean.

“During our community meetings, members made clear their priorities—environmental protection and public safety among others — and we intend to set these into law,” said Squamish Nation Council spokesman Chief Ian Campbell.

He noted there are critical issues unresolved, including Squamish Nation insistence on a separate agreement on the accompanying FortisBC natural gas pipeline that would be twinned from Coquitlam to supply Woodfibre.

Byng Giraud, Woodfibre LNG vice-president of corporate affairs, said he is now highly confident the project will be built, even if the company has to switch cooling systems under Squamish direction.

He said the company voluntarily decided to bind itself to whatever conditions aboriginal leaders would impose, even though it was presumed they would be more stringent than those set by government.

“Fundamentally, we are putting ourselves in their hands,” Giraud said. “Which is pretty ground-breaking. Given how things are going in British Columbia and Canada, I think any progressive company needs to take a serious look at this approach.”

A provincial government decision on Woodfibre’s environmental approval is before B.C.’s environment minister and a federal environmental certificate could be issued soon after the federal election.

Another Squamish condition before actual construction could begin is an economic benefits agreement with the first nation that Giraud said is still under negotiation.

The project would not be as large as the massive LNG plants proposed on B.C.’s north coast, but is thought to have a better chance of being the first new LNG facility built. It would use electricity to compress natural gas into supercooled LNG, rather than burning additional gas.

Woodfibre has already begun cleaning up the proposed site, where pollution lingers from a defunct pulp mill.

Forty tankers a year would load there and carry LNG to Asia.

The Singapore-based investors behind the project include Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto.

They are “highly committed” to the project, Giraud said, adding that even though LNG prices have sagged, construction costs are also thought to have fallen.

“Many of the service providers who would help build something like this right now certainly have sharper pencils when it comes to bidding.”

 

 

Proposed route of pipeline twinning project from north Coquitlam to Woodfibre, near Squamish. Fortis BC map.

Just Posted

Woman charged in Saanichton stabbing

One man treated for injuries, released from hospital following Friday assault

Saanich’s Red Lion Inn receives council’s blessing for extended liquor hours

Extension comes more than two years after a major fire

Province continues to investigate Saanich’s Horticultural Centre of the Pacific

Investigation stems from May 2 incident that turned Colquitz River ‘chocolate brown’

Avid Victoria cyclist’s legacy bike ride helps fund end-of-life care

2019 Denis Muloin Ride for Palliative Care invites cyclists for May 26 fundraiser

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read