Squamish Nation chiefs and council voted Wednesday to grant an Environmental Certificate for the Woodfibre LNG facility proposal slated for Squamish.
“The assessment represents an exercise in Squamish Nation self-determination by moving beyond mere consultation and getting to First Nation consent,” said Chief Ian Campbell in a news release Wednesday.
“Our decision today reflects the interests, the will and the beliefs of our members. It is our future – our decision to make.”
The agreement is legally binding and gives significant decision-making powers to the Squamish Nation, particularly for approval of management plans and the choice of cooling technology, according to the release.
The seawater cooling method proposed by the company was a sticking point for many in the community concerned about the technology’s impact on marine life.
The decision is subject to the company meeting the conditions set out in the certificate, and the agreement gives the company approval to proceed to the next step, Campbell said.
Byng Giraud, vice-president of corporate affairs for Woodfibre LNG, said reaching an environmental assessment agreement with Squamish Nation is an important step toward making a final investment decision on its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility.
“We believe that by working together with First Nations, we can build a better project, one that brings responsible economic opportunity to the region and protects traditional land, water and heritage resources,” he said in an emailed statement to The Squamish Chief.
Campbell said the environment comes first for the Nation, “but there is more – much more – to be done. During our community meetings, members made clear their priorities – environmental protection and public safety among others – and we intend to set these into law.”
There is still no Squamish Nation agreement with the province or with FortisBC over the pipeline required to supply natural gas to Woodfibre LNG.
“The pipeline is subject to a separate Squamish Nation Environmental Assessment Agreement,” Campbell said.
The Nation set out 25 conditions for the proposal on June 27. On July 24, Woodfibre LNG announced it agreed to meet the 13 conditions that applied to its part of the proposal. Provincial and federal government decisions on the project are expected later this year.
Pending regulatory approvals and a final investment decision, the Woodfibre LNG Project could be operational in 2018.