Opponents of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the Saanich Inlet need to be prepared for the year 2025.
That’s when they expect economic conditions to be ripe for further LNG development in British Columbia, leading to the possible return of Steelhead LNG, the company proposing a floating gas plant in the Inlet, along with undersea pipeline and tanker ships, in a project called Malahat LNG.
Members of the North Saanich residents’ association PROW (Property Responsibility On the Waterfront) told attendees of a recent Saanich Inlet Roundtable meeting they are still waiting to learn of the status of Steelhead LNG’s environmental assessment application and other provincial and federal regulatory processes. PROW spokesperson Brian Goodman said they are paying attention so they can be part of any process.
“Is this project in the public interest?” has asked the crowd. “This is the question before us now. And our focus is on the question: is the Saanich Inlet the right place for industrial developments?”
To date, the four First Nations on the Peninsula side of the Inlet, as well as two municipalities (Central and North Saanich) have already answered that with an emphatic ‘no’. And while current economics do not appear favourable for such a project, Goodman continued, Steelhead LNG is still working towards this project, should those economics change. On its website, Steelhead LNG states that at some point in 2018, they will make a decision whether to proceed.
“There’s a lot of time for this thing to come back,” Goodman said, noting that while First Nations on this side of the water oppose it, the Malahat First Nation voted to approve it and support creating jobs.
Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen reiterated his own opposition to the project, noting he has tried to meet with Steelhead LNG but that has not yet happened. Even so, Olsen said First Nations’ Douglas Treaty rights over the Saanich Inlet will ensure the project doesn’t happen.
“All it takes is one member of a Douglas Treaty nation to say no,” he said. “And if [Steelhead LNG] do not understand this, they will not be successful.”
MP Elizabeth May, who was also at the roundtable session at the SHOAL Centre in Sidney Oct. 12, focused her critique of the project on what she calls a “shocking, irrelevant process of analysis and risk analysis” within the LNG industry as a whole and on such projects as the now-defunct Petronas plan for LNG on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.
“I’m opposed to the LNG industry as a whole,” she continued, “as it relies on fracking.”