In advance of the Oct. 19 federal election, The Squamish Chief has been posing a series of questions on issues of importance to Squamish voters to the candidates for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding.
Q: Would the Woodfibre LNG – liquefied natural gas facility – slated for our district be good for Squamish? Why or why not?
John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada:
There is a real need in Squamish, in particular, for these kinds of value-added projects. In 2014, according to the town administration’s data, Squamish had to increase residential taxes by over five per cent. For Squamish to continue with its improved quality of life, it needs a revenue base to maintain its infrastructure and social support services in addition to quality jobs.
With regards to LNG, you’ll hear my opponents say that they don’t want us to rely on fossil fuels. It’s important for people to understand, however, that natural gas, as an energy source for electricity generation, has the potential to lower CO2 emissions significantly throughout the world.
As a politician, I do not support projects; I support policy. Part of policy is ensuring lower taxes and clearly defined regulatory processes.
My approval for any project relies strictly on science and the experts – not politicians with uninformed, emotionally driven opinions that frankly add no value. I am tired of watching politicians and special interests abuse the word “environment” to stop value-added projects. Environmental regulations are important, however should not be used as a “stop agent,” but rather a “change agent,” requiring industry to use less environmental inputs such as land, water, and energy.
Ken Melamed, Green Party of Canada:
Woodfibre LNG would not bring much benefit to Squamish. Most of the dwindling estimates accrue to the province and to the industry, not to the district.
Because Squamish is unlikely to see the tax revenues they have been promised, we’d be better off attracting other industries and investing in small businesses instead. That’s what bolsters the local tax base. That’s what keeps our local economy strong.
And even if the project did bring a slight benefit – which is unlikely – LNG tankers in Howe Sound would seriously impact revenue from sectors that make Squamish a haven for recreation tourists. Woodfibre LNG isn’t compatible with Howe Sound’s ecosystems, and it isn’t compatible with the industries that make Squamish the vibrant community that it is today.
I have a four-point plan to stop Woodfibre LNG in its tracks, and as member of Parliament I will work with communities around Howe Sound to establish new economic opportunities and create longer-lasting jobs.
Larry Koopman, New Democratic Party:
First I must acknowledge that Squamish residents are divided on this issue, with both sides having strong, credible arguments.
However, I believe the project as proposed should not proceed. Stephen Harper has gutted Canada’s environmental assessment process, leaving our coasts vulnerable.
An NDP government would overhaul the review process so that it’s credible, fully consults the public and takes the environmental impact and safety of projects into full account. To put it simply, it will be tougher environmental legislation with a more open public consultation process.
We respect the right of companies and First Nations to make proposals and boost economic development. But what is key now is to ensure that we get proper assessment processes and regulations in place so that Canadians can again have confidence that the public interest comes first.
Howe Sound is a very sensitive area for such a massive and complex project and I have deep concerns about the environmental impact and public safety issues.
Pam Goldsmith-Jones, Liberal Party of Canada:
Canada has a resource-driven economy that relies on strong environmental protection to ensure sustainability for future generations, the viability of our scenic tourist sector and local community and First Nations buy-in.
I believe the role of political leaders is to establish a science-based and transparent environmental review process that all interested stakeholders can have faith in.
In particular, I believe projects like Woodfibre LNG should meet five conditions: Any emissions be accounted for in the Liberal Party’s national greenhouse gas emissions framework. It should pass a transparent and evidence-based environmental review process. It should create real jobs and local economic benefits. Local government and First Nations communities should be consulted. World-class marine and land safety standards should be defined clearly and transparently and met by the proponent.