The Future of Howe Sound Society is calling for the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) to extend the consultation period for the Woodfibre liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and schedule meetings for the Sunshine Coast and West Vancouver.
Society executive director Ruth Simons said three separate public consultations on the project are happening simultaneously — BCEAO’s 30-day process that started June 12 and includes only one public meeting, on June 18, in Squamish; Woodfibre LNG’s proponent-led open houses that run from June 16 to July 4 (with no meetings on the Sunshine Coast); and open houses on the proposed Fortis pipeline expansion, which included a June 11 meeting in Gibsons.
“There’s three going on — it’s insane,” Simons said.
In a letter to BCEAO environmental assessment manager Josh Handysides, Simons said her group was “shocked your process is only allowing for one three-hour unbiased public information session, and the public comment period is only 30 days at a time when families are busy with end of school and summer holidays.”
Simons noted that Class A hazardous supertankers travelling through Howe Sound would have a major impact on all communities in the region, while the Fortis pipeline expansion through the Squamish watershed is also significant.
“We believe the process by which this project is reviewed requires the highest level of transparency and consideration of the Howe Sound community, not just Squamish, as this project impacts current and future generations,” she wrote.
Simons asked the province to extend the BCEAO public comment period to 45 days, host a second open house in Squamish, one in Gibsons and one in West Vancouver.
In an interview, Simons said the BCEAO has indicated that the Sunshine Coast does not need to be consulted on the project because “they decided that ships transiting Howe Sound don’t affect the Sunshine Coast.”
The tankers would be twice the length and width of a B.C. Ferries vessel, she said, and concerns include the hazardous LNG cargo, wake clearance and ocean depth in parts of the sound.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) had asked the province to hold two public information meetings in Gibsons on the Woodfibre LNG project, one for each phase of the environmental assessment review.
© Coast Reporter