News Local

Squamish residents wary of LNG exploration

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver



A recent letter of intent that Premier Christy Clark signed with a Singapore-backed firm proposing a liquefied natural gas plant near Squamish is not being seen as a good thing by some Howe Sound residents.

On Thursday, Clark announced Woodfibre LNG had signed a letter of intent to “further the growth of natural gas” in the province, calling the agreement progress on building a “competitive new export industry” for B.C.

The company is expected to make a final decision by 2015 regarding construction of an LNG export facility on a closed pulp mill near Squamish, according to the province.

But some locals in the District of Squamish, a community of 17,000 on the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler, say they don’t want the project, citing environmental and safety concerns.

Tracey Saxby of community activist group My Sea to Sky said residents have not been informed enough about the proposal.

“We have lots of questions that are still not answered,” Saxby said. “Is this actually a benefit to Squamish? I don’t think it is.”

Saxby said since the pulp mill closed in 2006, a flood of 4,000 people have actually moved into the community and tourism-related business has started to grow.

She worries LNG emissions, tankers in Howe Sound and dangers of gas leaks could deal a serious blow to the industry.

Squamish Mayor Rob Kirkham declined to comment on the issue, but in April said there is a “very real opportunity” to address concerns of the proposal.

Up the sound in Lions Bay, Mayor Brenda Broughton said that — due to pleasure craft and kayakers in the area — she’s worried about rogue waves and the effect of tankers on wildlife.

“The wave is unexpected and it has an intensity to it,” said Broughton. “People will watch a wave like that and only when it’s right in front of you will you realize how powerful it is.”

Opposition to such projects is nothing new for the area.

Another LNG project in nearby Roberts Creek was shut down by public opposition and as far back as 1973 residents opposed a coal port.

Woodfibre LNG did not return a call by 24 hours deadline for comment.

The provincial Ministry of Natural Gas Development said Woodfibre LNG has done its job informing residents.

“Woodfibre LNG has hosted multiple community sessions to speak with people in the local area,” the ministry said. “The input received will be used by the proponent to improve their environmental assessment submission.”







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