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Squamish council delays vote on floating LNG worker accommodation

Woodfibre LNG needs municipal approval for the hotel in order to start full-scale construction

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The District of Squamish has delayed a vote on the moorage of a floating hotel for workers at the Woodfibre LNG site.

On Tuesday evening, 68 speakers attended the Brennan Park Recreation Centre where they assessed and commented on Woodfibre LNG’s application for a temporary use permit for the floatel.

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The temporary use permit is for three years at the site of the planned LNG plant. It’s on the old Woodfibre Pulp and Paper land on the western shore of Howe Sound about seven kilometres south of Squamish.

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The application includes a permit to operate a water plant, a food service permit and a sewage holding tank permit. The floatel is a converted cruise ship and has accommodation for around 650 workers. It’s presently moored in Nanaimo harbour.

The Woodfibre LNG project has been approved by the federal and provincial governments and the Squamish Nation. However, it can’t go ahead without workers and the District of Squamish has the power to reject the company’s application to use the floatel.

The LNG project was approved in 2015 and workers were expected to live in and around Squamish. But as the rental vacancy rate dropped in Squamish, the floating hotel idea was suggested in order to reduce the impact on the community.

This led the project owner — Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto — to contract Bridgemans Services Group to convert a cruise ship into worker housing for up to 650 people.

Tanoto owns the Singapore-based Royal Golden Eagle Group of Companies, which owns Pacific Energy Canada, which owns 70 per cent of the Woodfibre LNG Project. The remaining 30 per cent is owned by the Canadian publicly listed company Enbridge.

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Tracey Saxby, spokesperson for the anti-Woodfibre LNG group My Sea to Sky, said some speakers on Tuesday were contractors aligned with the project, while others spoke against the project.

Saxby said that those opposed to the project and the floatel were concerned about the floatel’s waste management plan, about worker safety and the human rights of young women exposed to workers either in the ship or in Squamish.

Squamish councillors will now assess the additional information and concerns they heard on Tuesday night before voting on the permit application next Tuesday, April 30.

The Woodfibre LNG project will use electricity to convert natural gas supplied by Fortis B.C. into liquid natural gas that will be exported by ship to overseas markets.

Preliminary site work began in November, with full construction to commence once the floating hotel permit is received. The project is expected to be complete by 2027 and will have a 25-year life span.

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