August 23, 2014
Premier Clark announced from China in November 2013 that Woodfibre LNG at Squamish could be the first west coast facility to liquefy natural gas (LNG) and export to Asia. This was news, and still is to many who live along the route of the supertankers that will be carrying this highly hazardous cargo.*
It is possible members of government promoting this location are not familiar with the geography and demographics of Howe Sound as was the case with Minister Raitt, the Federal Minister of Transportation. In a meeting July 23rd with local government representatives from around Howe Sound, hosted by MP John Weston in West Vancouver, Minister Raitt asked for a map part way through the meeting, and many questions were left unanswered.
Soon after the meeting the Municipality of Bowen Island passed a resolution supporting the ban on LNG tankers in Howe Sound, joining the District of West Vancouver, Village of Lions Bay, Town of Gibsons, Gambier Island Local Trust and the Sunshine Coast Regional District. Their unanimous concern results from the lack of Federal safety standards specific to LNG carrying tankers, and the impact these 1000’ long LNG Supertankers will have on the marine environment, the public safety of both commercial and recreational marine traffic and the population centres along the shoreline of Howe Sound.
The communities of Howe Sound were excluded as stakeholders by the company and BC Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) even though the scope of the assessment extends from Squamish to the mouth of Howe Sound at Passage Island. Whistler on the other hand, 60 kms north of Squamish and Howe Sound was afforded an open house in the latest round of “public consultations” hosted by the company Woodfibre LNG. The BC Environmental Assessment Office teaming up with the proponent, held one open house for the public in Squamish.
The processing facility at Woodfibre is often referred to as “small scale” compared to the much larger LNG proposals up north, however the tankers carrying this highly volatile cargo are not. The focus is being centered on the processing plant at Woodfibre, but the Fortis BC pipeline project required to deliver the gas to the site, the construction phases and the shipping will also have lasting consequences on the future of Howe Sound.
The first of two BCEAO public comment periods ended July 27th and the over 1,400 comments received can be read on-line. Next phase is the completion of the Application Information Requirements which is anticipated to be sometime this fall. The Future of Howe Sound has hosted information meetings in Squamish and West Vancouver with another being planned for October in West Vancouver for the purpose of helping the public be more aware and informed about the Woodfibre LNG and Fortis BC projects.
Estimated comparison. Photos: Howe Sound & Ferry by J DeRoo; taken from Bowyer Island. LNG Akwa Ibom by Manuel Hernández Lafuente.