The ships came from all over the South Coast and the message was simple: Save our sound.
Dozens gathered at Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to express their concerns about the Woodfibre LNG plant proposed for Squamish and the tanker route it will potentially follow.
A short press conference with Eoin Finn of My Sea to Sky and Anton van Walraven of the Concerned Citizens Bowen kicked off the event, followed by a flotilla of several dozen boats blowing their horns along the proposed tanker route.
Van Walraven, who has lived on Bowen Island since 2003, said those living on the island have concerns relating to economic, technical and safety issues with the plant and how it could impact Bowen Island.
“We live right in the sound and see the marine life coming back,” he said. “We’ve all worked so hard to clean it up, and it attracts a lot of people to this region.”
He said the vision of Howe Sound for Bowen Island residents does not include re-industrialization.
“What we have learned from this is that there is no regional planning process in place,” he said. “Howe Sound is basically up for grabs. Just like with the McNabb gravel mine and the incinerator – our vision is more of a natural area.”
According to van Walraven, safety issues are also a big concern.
“It starts with public safety because there is no regulation for LNG transport in Canada,” he said. “In New Brunswick the federal government said it was too dangerous for Maine to transport LNG, so why is it OK to do so in Howe Sound? We have ferries going in and out every day, recreational users and log booms coming through – it’s already very well used.”
Criticism about the event was posted online, with pro-LNG advocates stating that protestors were indirectly supporting the oil and gas industry by cruising Howe Sound in their boats. Van Walraven welcomed the criticism and said the protest highlights our reliance on fossil fuels.
“I’m glad for those comments because it magnifies that our whole society is so dependent on fossil fuels,” he said. “Living in this society doesn’t disallow you from starting the conversation about alternative energy. Fossil fuels won’t last forever, so we should have that conversation and move forward.”
He said he’s glad that Squamish residents are discovering their own power with LNG protests and that the decision is critical for the future of Squamish and Howe Sound.
“We all need to have a vote about the future of Howe Sound,” he said. “In all of the communities and with all of the stakeholders. We need a planning process for the region and we need a seat at the table as opposed to these projects just being dropped on us. Our only option is to come out and say no like we did today.”
A review of the project by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office was suspended late last month to give Woodfibre time to respond to the demands of the Squamish Nation, which on June 26 released a list of 26 conditions the project must meet to receive its approval.