The proponent behind a proposed workcamp near Squamish says the continued discussion from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District about whether or not to grant a Temporary Use Permit is "going in circles."
Mike Coyne, the owner of LandSea, told The Chief he wrote a letter to the SLRD board for their latest meeting "requesting they reconsider the resolution, primarily because in our opinion, they're passing resolutions on the fly. Their resolutions are contradicting previous resolutions that were passed with certain conditions that would be applied to the TUP if it was issued. There's just a lot of confusion as to what the process is, what these resolutions are, how come every time we get in front of the board they move the goalposts."
Coyne's letter stated as a third party applicant, the Environmental Assessment process and certifications for Woodfibre LNG or FortisBC don't apply to LandSea. The SLRD, Coyne said, is not responsible for monitoring or maintaining EA certificates. It also disputes that an application requires being tied to a major project, as the board has said. (Of the TUP policy wording, board chair Tony Rainbow said Coyne is at odds with the board about interpreting the requirements.)
"A lot of the information that they're requesting is included in the application," Coyne said. "If the board were to allow staff to proceed with the application, the staff would be able to assemble their report, provide their report and all of these questions and concerns that board members may have are addressed in the application and staff's report."
Ultimately, the board voted not to work on the TUP for LandSea until discussions with Woodfibre or Fortis progress further.
SLRD staff have been told they're not to bring anything back to the board unless there is a definite commitment from either Woodfibre and or Fortis.
While the official wording has yet to be published (it will be approved in the meeting's minutes), Coyne said he has reached out to the board since the meeting for clarification on next steps.
"Right now there is no other solution available" for housing a potential influx of construction workers, Coyne said. "The only solution that's available right now is the rental market in Squamish, which is limited. That's the concern. That's why we're putting forward this option. And it's simply an option. Why would the SLRD and the District of Squamish not want as many options available to house workers in this community and mitigate the pressure we're all realizing?"
Rainbow, the SLRD board chair and electoral representative for Area D, said "this is an ongoing saga."
"Mr. Coyne essentially is saying it's as tied as it can be, because he can't enter into any kind of agreement or contract until he has something with which he can contract and he doesn't have a permit right now. The board is saying they want to see a more definite connection and a commitment from Woodfibre that they would definitely use the camp," Rainbow told The Chief following the July 24 meeting. "If Woodfibre came out and said, 'Yes, we want this camp at Britannia,' I think the decision would be made very quickly. Whether it would be in favour or opposed, I'm not prepared to say or to guess."
In his letter to the board, Coyne included a letter of support from both FortisBC and Woodfibre LNG, but Rainbow said the language in the letters is vague.
He said the board's main concerns are the impact occupants of a workcamp could have on the small population in Britannia Beach, or in Squamish — including social and safety concerns. A camp not tied to a specific project could become "a glorified motel."
"Underlying all this is there is still, in Squamish and the neighbourhood, an opposition to LNG itself, nevermind the workcamp. That has to be brought to mind when one hears arguments against the workcamp, sometimes the arguments are against WLNG," Rainbow said. He added that some local opposition to a workcamp may stem from a belief that without a camp, the LNG project cannot move forward.
In a letter sent to the SLRD board and shared with The Chief, local advocacy group My Sea to Sky's Tracy Saxby outlined her concerns about the proposed workcamp and the application for a TUP. The letter from My Sea to Sky gives its support to the SLRD's resolution not to work on a permit for LandSea, echoing its reasons that the project is not concretely tied to a project, despite letters of support.
"I'm hoping if this comes to us again there will be a very clear understanding on everybody's part what we're looking at, we can consider it and make a decision. I'm not sure when that's likely to be," Rainbow said.