March 16, 2014
An important first step in the Environmental Assessment Process for all concerned about the Woodfibre LNG project in Howe Sound will likely take place this summer. According to the Environmental Assessment Office, the Draft Application Information Requirements currently being prepared by the company are expected in the next couple of months. Once the Environment Assessment Office has approved the Draft, there will be a 30 day public comment period. This is one of only two official public input stages of the decision making process by the Provincial and Federal government on this project that will result in Liquid Natural Gas processing and tankers on the waters of Howe Sound. The first public comment is likely to be taking place this summer.
In February, despite numerous letters of opposition, The British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office’s (BCEAO) request for substitution of the environmental assessment process for the Woodfibre LNG project was accepted by the Hon. Leona Aglukkaq, Federal Minister of the Environment. Substitution allows for the BCEAO to take the lead in gathering information and setting out procedural aspects of the environmental assessment, while the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA Agency) will contribute their federal departmental expertise. The environmental assessment will meet all federal and provincial requirements and two separate decisions from the respective provincial and federal environment ministries will still be required.
In addition to the formal consultation activities that will be conducted by the EAO the proponent, Woodfibre Natural Gas Ltd., is also carrying out their own consultation, including a series of public events, and will be planning more before the formal consultation in May-June. The company held several open houses in early February. The open houses were held in West Vancouver, Squamish, Britannia Beach and Whistler. Residents of the Sunshine Coast needed to travel over to the mainland in order to learn more about this project. The Port Mellon area on the Sunshine Coast would be impacted by the expansion of an existing compressor in order to meet the requirements by Fortis of increasing the flow of Gas for Woodfibre LNG Company to export.
The dialogue is active on the pros and cons of the Woodfibre project as recently reported by the Georgia Strait. On Tuesday, April 8th the public is welcome to attend the Boom or Bust event organized by a group of Squamish residents who have partnered with Quest University to hear from local experts on LNG while they discuss the province’s plan for natural gas development and what that means for the Sea to Sky corridor. Speakers include:
- Matt Horne, Associate Regional Director, Pembina Institute (updated)
- Jeremy Moorhouse, Senior Analyst with Clean Energy Canada
- Naomi Owens, Saulteau First Nations Lands Manager and Biologist
For questions about the Environmental Assessment process, the public can write directly to Josh Handysides, Project Assessment Manager, Environmental Assessment Office, Josh.Handysides@gov.bc.ca , phone: 250-356-7483