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Editorial: 'What then?' a key question to ask about Squamish council floatel decision

Woodfibre LNG construction moves forward, Squamish to debate floatel for workers amid local housing concerns.
The floatel when it was coming into Vancouver earlier this year. It is moored in Nanaimo waiting for the TUP before moving to the WLNG site.

Public engagement with council over the Woodfibre LNG floatel is an unequivocally positive thing. 

The District of Squamish is hosting a public hearing at Brennan Park Recreation Centre on Tuesday, April 23, at 6 p.m. about the requested WLNG temporary use permit  (TUP) for its construction-worker accommodation. 

Not sure you understand what it is and what is happening? Come and find out.

My Sea to Sky, the group that has opposed the project for almost a decade, is encouraging locals to voice their opposition.

Publicly expressing your disagreement is a fundamental right. The freedom of peaceful assembly is baked into our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, after all.

However, opposition to the floatel must be paired with a clear understanding of where we are at.

An  important question to ask is, ‘Then what?’ 

If council were to vote no to the TUP, what would happen then?

Woodfibre LNG spokesperson Sean Beardow says that construction of the LNG facility is underway “and will continue regardless of the temporary use permit outcome.” 

“Council’s decision is a simple zoning matter to authorize using [the] industrial-zoned area to accommodate 650 workers aboard the floatel, rather than having these workers compound pre-existing rental housing, traffic and infrastructure pressures in the community,” he told The Squamish Chief.

The vocal opposition to the floatel, devised as a solution after many in the community loudly opposed a land camp back in 2019, is somewhat reminiscent of the folks who opposed the original oil and lube retailer plan for the teardrop piece of land in front of Squamish Elementary. 

The council listened back then, and we ended up with the Jumar 101-unit development, which many of the same people were shocked by once it was built.

Opposition with only one solution—cancelling the project—is a risky game if that is not realistic.

“The floatel has already been approved by the provincial government, Squamish Nation and Transport Canada. As Woodfibre LNG’s decision to procure and utilize a floatel was based on extensive engagement with the District of Squamish, Squamish Nation and local residents, we trust that council will pass the zoning decision and ensure our workers are housed without community impacts,”  Beardow said.

That is important information that should be as loud as the opposition.

Look, is this a project that Squamish wants? 

For some, yes. For many others, no.

So, come with your voice, but also come with an understanding of what is achievable now that this project is happening. Or risk being shocked if there are unintended consequences in response to demands.


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