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Woodfibre LNG seeks federal permission to build dock at Darrell Bay in Squamish

About two weeks are left for public comments, as Dec. 28 deadline approaches
Darrel Bay
Rendering of Woodfibre LNG facility at build out.

Editor's note: Transport Canada has just extended the deadline to comment from Dec. 14 to Dec. 28. The article has been changed to reflect the new date.

Time is running out to comment on Woodfibre LNG's application to build a dock on Darrell Bay.

The company has submitted an application to Transport Canada under the Navigable Waters Act, and the deadline for comment is Dec. 28. Once the comment period closes, authorities will review the input before making a decision.

The corporation is asking the federal government if it can build the dock so it can transport construction crews to the Woodfibre site across Howe Sound, where they will build the LNG facility.

According to the application, this dock will be constructed on land owned by B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The application says the structure will consist of a fixed pile-supported approach and a gangway ramp to access a floating dock.

Woodfibre Crew Dock - Darrell Bay Howe Sound - Screen shot of Government of Canada drawing

The float and gangway ramp will be constructed at an offsite location and towed into place. Fixed approach support piles and float mooring piles will be driven in place using a barge-mounted crane on a spud barge.

The project may require the use of tugboats, barges, a land-based crane, trucks and hand tools, the application states.

Which level of government grants final permission for the dock is not as obvious as most would assume.

 It's unclear if the federal government's blessing will be enough for Woodfibre to proceed with the dock.

The company may have to seek permission from other levels of government as well.

Gary Buxton, general manager at the District of Squamish, says the municipality believes Woodfibre will still need to obtain a development permit from the District to construct the dock.

Buxton noted, however, that the affected water lots are owned by the province.

"It could be possible that Crown actions on Crown lands are not subject to municipal processes, in much the same way that logging takes place without any District permits," he said.

"We would assume, however, that at some point a [development permit] application would be necessary."

In the application, Woodfibre says that it is negotiating with the province in hopes of reaching an agreement.

Currently, the application says, a provincial order only allows for activities related to a ferry terminal in that area.

Darrell Bay already has a ferry dock, which, generally speaking, is reserved for emergencies.

"The proposed crew transport dock needs prior approval from Transport Canada under the Canadian Navigable Waters Act," reads a statement issued by Woodfibre.

"Provincially, we are also in the process of finalizing licensing arrangements with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure."

A statement from the province seems to suggest that the final say rests with them.

"Approval from the Government of Canada does not permit Woodfibre LNG to construct a new dock at Darrell Bay," reads a statement issued by the provincial Ministry of Transportation.

"Darrell Bay is owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; only the province can grant Woodfibre LNG permission to occupy the terminal and/or build an additional dock. We have been working with Woodfibre LNG on a license of occupation for the use of the Darrell Bay facility; however, we have not yet issued a license to the company."

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