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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Johnathan Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight charges including sex-related offences against children and accessing, possessing and making or publishing child pornography. (Courtesy of Saanich Police)
Sentencing date moved for Saanich nanny guilty of child porn charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight sex offences against children

(Google Maps)
Sophisticated glass-removal crime returns to downtown Victoria

Several businesses on Fort Street targeted overnight, say police

Patrick MacMullan won $28,000 playing Toto. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Greater Victoria man wins $28,000 while watching football

Winning ticket purchased at Colwood convenience store

Victoria police are seeking public assistance in identifying a suspect and witness of a Dec. 4 sexual assault in Esquimalt. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police seeking suspect, witness of sexual assault of Esquimalt teen

Teen sexually assaulted Dec. 4 after departing number 15 bus

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read