Why Woodfibre LNG + FortisBC's workcamps need to be an election issue
September 22, 2022
The last few months I've read through thousands of pages of documents from the environmental assesment for the FortisBC pipeline. What I discovered is that the impacts of a work camp located in the community of Squamish have never been assessed.
FortisBC originally proposed a workcamp for 150–250 workers, located on the west side of the Squamish River, near the Woodfibre site. Now they want to build a workcamp for up to 650 workers near Quest University, which will be accessed via Mamquam Forest Service Rd.
Woodfibre LNG is also proposing a "floatel" or floating workcamp near Woodfibre for up to 600 workers and is negotiating for these workers to have access to Squamish. The adverse cumulative effects of two workcamps for 1,250+ workers in Squamish have never been assessed.
These two workcamps will have regional impacts for all of the communities around Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound. Yet the BC Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO) has arbitrarily refused to allow the public to provide feedback on FortisBC's proposed workcamp. This puts an even greater burden on the District of Squamish to engage in this process to ensure adequate oversight and review of the proposed workcamp.
Violence follows resource extraction projects
Work camps for resource extraction projects can have significant and often unanticipated impacts on nearby communities.
Justice for Girls has written an eye-opening letter detailing how violence follows resource extraction projects, writing that "camp culture breeds a hyper-masculinity that is fuelled by isolation, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, misogyny, and racism."
FortisBC and Woodfibre LNG have both failed to consider the local and regional impacts of their workcamps on our communities.
FortisBC's proposed workcamp location is not viable
The good news is that we learned through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that District staff have told FortisBC that the proposed workcamp is not viable in this location due to current zoning and district policies, issues with permitting, access, services, policing, fire, and impacts to existing businesses.
The bad news is that the next council could completely ignore staff's recommendations and let FortisBC put a workcamp there anyway. This is why you need to vote for candidates that will commit to stop the workcamps in the upcoming municipal election.
Why you need to vote in the upcoming municipal election
The next elected council in Squamish will have decision-making authority over several key permits / zoning related to the Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC pipeline projects, including:
- Temporary Use Permit for FortisBC's workcamp for up to 650 temporary workers.
- Temporary Use Permit for FortisBC's proposed laydown/storage yard.
- Temporary Use Permit for Woodfibre LNG's "floatel" for up to 600 temporary workers.
- Municipal tax agreement with Woodfibre LNG.
- Permission to use Darrell Bay parking to transport workers to and from the site.
A recent update to council outlines all of the upcoming decisions and what role the next council will play. Council can approve or deny any or all of these permits.
It is critical that we elect a council that will hold Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC accountable.
Ask the candidates where they stand
Ask candidates what their position is on the Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC projects and workcamps. Ask candidates if they will approve or deny the temporary use permits for these two workcamps in Squamish.
The next council will also be responsible for negotiating a municipal tax agreement with Squamish.
My Sea to Sky stopped a pro-LNG council from accepting a $2 million tax agreement with Woodfibre LNG in 2014. A year later in 2015 taxes were assessed at $5-7 million. It’s likely much higher now as the project cost has tripled, and land values have gone up immensely.
Woodfibre LNG wants a deal because the project is not economically viable and is already relying on over $50 million per year in tax breaks and subsidies from the Provincial and Federal governments.
If this project goes ahead, we need to elect a council that will ensure that Woodfibre LNG pays their fair share in municipal taxes.
This upcoming municipal election is critical. If you are concerned about Woodfibre LNG, FortisBC, and the impacts of two workcamps and the laydown yard in Squamish, please talk to your friends and family. Tell them why they need to get informed and make sure you all vote!
We need to become active citizens!
Executive Director, My Sea to Sky
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