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Letter: FortisBC work camp in Squamish not a done deal

'FortisBC’s Temporary Use Permit (TUP) work camp is not a done deal because of the work of locals like Sue Brown and the organization Justice For Girls'
FortisBC camp.

FortisBC’s Temporary Use Permit (TUP) work camp is not a done deal because of the work of locals like Sue Brown and the organization Justice For Girls, who are advocating for Indigenous women and girls’ voices to be safely heard on this matter.

Sue’s letter to the Environmental Assessment Office last September speaks explicitly to the threat of increased crime and sexual violence that FortisBC’s TUP poses to Squamish residents for the next several years.

“One study found a 38% increase in sexual assaults during the first year of an industrial project’s construction phase in Northern British Columbia, yet reporting rates of violence in industrial resource extraction camps are estimated to be even lower than in the general population,” wrote Sue Brown of Justice For Girls.

Sue’s letter details how difficult it is for Indigenous voices to be safely heard, and I believe that spending taxpayers’ money on an increased RCMP presence in Squamish because of the Eagle Mountain Pipeline Project puts Indigenous and minority communities in more danger and is not an appropriate outreach or safety plan for FortisBC’s TUP.

The dangers of sexual violence also exist for those who live and work at these camps, not just residents of Squamish.

Sue’s letter highlights a lack of sufficient support for victims at these work camps, and that a code of conduct and training will not sufficiently accomplish a deterrent to the misogynistic work camp culture.

On Aug. 2, a CBC article correlated the largest human trafficking corridors and online commercial sex markets in Canada with extraction work camps in Alberta and demonstrates how centralizing workers in workcamps, rather than dispersing them into the community, leads to toxic camp culture and increases in organized crime.

Assuming that FortisBC’s TUP work camp is a done deal is to look the other way to human rights violations in Squamish, and is extremely privileged in face of FortisBC’s non-consensual leadership and inadequate community engagement and transparency.

There is no other permit that this District would approve with such a high risk of sexual assault and increased organized crime. It would be far safer for Squamish to reject the TUP and integrate temporary workers into the local housing market instead, where risks around workcamp culture would be reduced and workers would be more likely to be integrated into the community.

Alexander Johnson



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