Workers for the Woodfibre LNG project may be housed in a floatel, rather than a land-based workcamp.
The facility would be located at the south end of the site.
The company has filed an amendment to its environmental assessment certificate with
the Environmental Assessment Office for the change.
“The Amendment seeks BC Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO), Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) and Squamish Nation approval to house construction workers in a floating worker camp — the floatel,” reads the press release from Woodfibre.
The move is in response to the community’s mostly negative reaction to an on-land workcamp — slated for Britannia Beach, according to Woodfibre LNG spokesperson, Rebecca Scott.
Over the summer, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board also deferred the workcamp’s Temporary Use Permit, saying it has not met the board’s conditions.
At peak construction, there will be 650 workers at Woodfibre.
The floatel will be a self-contained barge with approximately 400 to 600 beds, an on-board kitchen, recreational areas, sewage collection and holding tanks, garbage collection, and a loading dock. Water will be recycled, and waste will be carried off the vessel for disposal at a licensed facility.
Power will be provided from BC Hydro via an existing connection at the Woodfibre site, according to the company.
Having a water-based housing facility close to the site will help reduce road and marine traffic and will increase safety, the release states.
“A floatel will address concerns we’ve heard from the community over the past year about the potential impacts of using land-based camps or rentaI housing at a time when the Squamish market is already tight,” said David Keane, president of Woodfibre LNG in the press release.
The company also has a lease and is currently furnishing units in a Sirocco building along the Mamquam Blind Channel.
“That will be used for senior executives, engineering folks, etcetera, the project management team, while they are here. Some are coming with families,” said Rob Mingay, Woodfibre LNG’s new vice-president of corporate affairs, who stepped into the role in September.
Mingay told The Chief the company has heard criticism that the lease is taking away housing from those locals who may need it, but he said his understanding is that the building the company leased would not have been built without the commitment from the project to lease it.
“It will go eventually — after about three or four years — back into the Squamish rental market,” he added.
The BC Environmental Assessment Office will provide a 30-day public comment period as part of their review of the amendment for the floatel. Woodfibre LNG will continue to engage with directly impacted marine users to ensure concerns are being addressed, the company said.
Mayor Karen Elliott took a cautious approach to news of the floatel.
“We have been vocal about our concerns surrounding temporary worker housing since the beginning of the project discussions and so I’m encouraged to hear that the project proponents have finally listened to the community’s concerns,” she told The Chief in an emailed statement.
“We’ll be interested to review the details of the amendment application and determine what impacts, whether economic, social or environmental, this floatel may have.”
Elliott said it is important to note that the proposed Woodfibre floatel will only be one part of the housing approach as Fortis BC will also have a substantial temporary workforce to house during the construction of the associated gas pipeline. “This is something we will be looking at as part of the big picture. The District will have a seat on a Technical Working Group for the amendment application, and through that, staff and council will review the application carefully to do what we can to ensure the best outcome for our community.”
My Sea to Sky’s Tracey Saxby, said while the group appreciates Woodfibre LNG listening to the community’s feedback on the previously planned land-based workcamp, the activist group’s leadership will be further reviewing the floatel amendment.
“We continue to be concerned that Woodfibre LNG has rented the entire Sirocco building, as this essentially constitutes workforce housing right in downtown Squamish. The impacts of this have never been properly assessed.”
Questions for the company about the floatel can be submitted at www.askwoodfibrelng.ca.
A Fortis BC and Woodfibre LNG Community Table was held in Squamish on Oct. 22.
The event was held in collaboration with the District of Squamish.
Representatives from specific groups in the Sea to Sky were invited to hear updates and give feedback.
About 20 representatives attended, including My Sea to Sky, for the Woodfibre portion of the day.
“We wanted to get some feedback on how we might better integrate into the community, some of their concerns about the project,” said Mingay.
The feedback was “helpful,” he added.
The company heard that people want more feedback on what is going on at the site and from some who are not in support of the project.
“You are going to be hearing and seeing more from us,” he said. “We have been pretty quiet for the last couple of years.”
A date for a Final Investment Decision (FID) hasn’t been set, according to Mingay.
“We are making steady progress toward an FID,” is all he could say on the matter.
The company is onboarding a couple of new people a week in management positions, Mingay said.
“We have taken a whole floor in Vancouver — corporate offices. So, we are moving along and we are optimistic we are going to be able to proceed very soon.”
Remediation has continued on the Woodfibre site, he said.
“We found 400 discarded tires, which were just kind of thrown away. It was a real mess,” he said. “We have been breaking up some slab — there’s some demo work going on.”
Fortis BC had a morning session at the same Community Table event.
Company spokesperson Trevor Wales said they too will be ramping up community engagement.
“We held a community session focused on potential workforce accommodation options to hear different perspectives and expertise from the community. In the months ahead, we’ll be engaging more broadly with the community on this topic, including hosting a public information session. We encourage anyone who would like to learn more to visit our project website at Talking Energy, or to contact our team directly at 1-855-380-5784 or email@example.com,” Wales told The Chief.
Also, in the weeks ahead, the company will be carrying out additional geotechnical investigations “to fine-tune” its plans.
This includes work within the District of Squamish, including at two locations along Industrial Way and Finch Drive. A crew will be drilling narrow, vertical holes to learn more about underground conditions.
Temporary partial lane closures will be required on Industrial and Finch, near the Highway 99 intersection.
Beginning at the start of next week, work will take approximately two days at each location and is anticipated to finish in early November.
A Fortis BC contractor will also conduct a field survey at locations along Finch Drive in early November. This will assist in project planning and detailed engineering, and this work should be finished by mid-November.
Other Woodfibre news
Woodfibre LNG’s parent company is called Pacific Oil & Gas Limited (PO&G). In the late spring, PO&G acquired 100 per cent of a natural gas producer called Canbriam Energy— based in Calgary but with operations in Fort St. John.
The objective is for Canbriam to supply natural gas to Woodfibre, where it will be liquefied and exported, according to Woodfibre spokeswoman Rebecca Scott.
It was announced Tuesday that Canbriam has been renamed Pacific Canbriam Energy Limited.