They milled about the displays, asking pointed questions about tanker traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, water and light pollution.
In Squamish 175 people attended an open house Jan. 28 to discover how to submit comments and ask questions about the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant during the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) public comment period, which runs until March 9.
Another 152 attended the West Vancouver open house held last Thursday, while a smaller crowd of 116 gathered at Bowen Island Friday evening to hear more about the liquefied natural gas facility planned for Howe Sound at Squamish.
No meetings have been scheduled on the Sunshine Coast.
“Marine and shipping safety” was one of the main concerns expressed during the open houses, EAO project assessment manager Michael Shepard told The Squamish Chief.
Concerns also included pollution, greenhouse gases, job opportunities, and “how an LNG facility would impact the Squamish community and recreational values.”
“This is one of several opportunities for us to hear from the public about what their concerns are about the project… and get answers from the company,” Shepard explained.
As she perused the displays at the event, Ruth Simons of the Future of Howe Sound Society said she was having trouble getting Woodfibre LNG to answer her questions. She was searching for a specific map but said none of the staff seemed to be able to find it for her among the Woodfibre displays and thick binders about the proposed project.
“On the marine side, I am very concerned about the effects of LNG tankers,” said Simons. “There is some danger. I don’t think they have done all their homework.”
It’s up to Woodfibre LNG to address all questions submitted during the Environmental Assessment process, and vice-president of corporate affairs Byng Giraud said the company plans to do just that. “We are required to respond to every question.”
He said construction on the facility could start later this year, if all proceeds according to plan, including addressing every concern expressed by the community during the public comment process.
Shepard said interest in the environmental assessment for the Woodfibre plant is “definitely high” in Squamish. “I wouldn’t be surprised to have hundreds or thousands of comments,” he said. “It’s a testament to the level of passion and engagement in this community.”
Giraud pledged the company would continue to answer questions after March 9 through its website, Facebook page and community office in downtown Squamish, as well as through new online tools it is exploring.
Comments can now be submitted through the Environmental Assessment Office website at www.eao.gov.bc.ca, faxed to 250-387-0230 or mailed to Michael Shepard, Environmental Assessment Office, PO Box 9426 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria B.C. V8W 9V1.
Once the office has made a report, the ministers have 45 days to make a decision on whether to grant approval or to request more information. Minister of Environment Mary Polak and Minister of Natural Gas and Deputy Premier Rich Coleman will jointly make the decision, according to Shepard.