While there have been rumours around town that FortisBC is planning to lease or rent rooms for its workers at one of the former Quest University dorms, officially, FortisBC is neither confirming nor denying this.
Instead, a FortisBC spokesperson says the company’s focus is on its plan to build a lodge.
"FortisBC recognizes the importance of mitigating impacts to the local Squamish community, including accommodation for non-local workers on the Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline (EGP) Project. We are aware that Quest University is suspending academic operations, and the property is now listed for sale. As this development occurred very recently, we do not have any information to share on the feasibility of FortisBC's contractors using Quest facilities to house their non-local workers," said a spokesperson for FortisBC in an emailed statement to The Squamish Chief.
"We remain focused on pursuing the Temporary-Use Permit with the District of Squamish for the temporary Workforce Lodge. We believe that the opportunity to house non-local workers in the temporary Workforce Lodge, located in close proximity to the proposed construction laydown yard, will mitigate impacts to local community services and infrastructure."
Temporary use permits, or TUPs, allow for a change in land use that can be good for up to three years, depending on the conditions of the permit. They may be renewed once.
In this case, the permits would allow for the creation of a construction yard and a camp for workers intended to support the building of FortisBC's pipeline expansion, which would deliver natural gas to the planned Woodfibre LNG export facility.
Pipeline construction is expected to occur starting this year through 2026.
According to FortisBC documentation, "the average loading for non-local workers, based on a June 2023 lodge occupancy date, is anticipated to be approximately 300 to 400 workers on average during 2023 to 2025, peaking at approximately 600 workers for a period in summer 2025."
Construction of the lodge will require, at most, 60 workers, "who will be accommodated at local hotels and shuttled by bus to and from the lodge site," Fortis said it in its EGP Lodge use, management and access report.
The lodge is slated for a seven-hectare site on Lafarge Canada Inc property, accessed by the Mamquam Forest Service Road and Powerhouse Springs FSR.
Previously, before the announcement that Quest would be no longer offering its programs after April of this year, FortisBC said it met with school representatives to discuss the proximity of the worker lodge and specifically discussed student safety concerning the use of pathways behind Quest near the proposed lodge which are accessed using a walking bridge across Ring Creek.
"We also believe that Workforce Lodge mitigations including 24/7 security, a no-visitor policy and Worker Code of Conduct will contribute to community safety. Additionally, orientation training, including cultural awareness training, is intended to promote a culture of respect within the temporary Workforce Lodge and community," wrote the FortisBC spokesperson in the recent statement to The Squamish Chief.
Squamish council has yet to make a decision on granting the TUPs.
Elected officials said at a meeting in mid-February, they wanted more detailed information before making their decision.
A public information meeting on the proposal was held by FortisBC earlier this month.
Find out more about the overall project on the District's website.
~With files from Steven Chua/The Squamish Chief
**Please note, this story has been updated since it was first posted to note the creek is Ring Creek, not Carpenter Creek, as was first stated and which is the name ForitsBC has in its document.