Woodfibre LNG seeks option to house workers in ‘floatel’ in Squamish

30-day public comment period part of environmental review

Workers for the Woodfibre LNG project may be housed in a floatel, rather than a land-based work camp.

It would be located at the south end of the site.

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The company has filed an amendment to its environmental assessment certificate with the Environmental Assessment Office for the change.

“The Amendment seeks BC Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO), Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) and Squamish Nation approval to house construction workers in a floating worker camp – the floatel,” the company said in a press release.

The move is in response to the community’s mostly negative reaction to an on-land workcamp – slated for Britannia Beach, according to Woodfibre LNG spokesperson Rebecca Scott.

Over the summer, the Squamish Lillooet Regional District board also deferred the workcamp’s Temporary Use Permit, saying it has not met their conditions.

At peak construction, there will be 650 workers at Woodfibre.

The floatel will be a self-contained barge with approximately 400 to 600 beds, an on-board kitchen, recreational areas, sewage collection and holding tanks, garbage collection, and a loading dock. Water will be recycled, and waste will be carried off the vessel for disposal at a licensed facility. Power will be provided from BC Hydro via an existing connection at the Woodfibre site, according to the company.

Having a water-based housing facility close to the site will help reduce road and marine traffic and will increase safety, the release states.

“A floatel will address concerns we’ve heard from the community over the past year about the potential impacts of using land-based camps or rentaI housing at a time when the Squamish market is already tight,” David Keane, president of Woodfibre LNG, said in the release.

The company also has a lease and is currently furnishing units in a Sirocco building along the Mamquam Blind Channel.

“That will be used for senior executives, engineering folks, et cetera, the project management team, while they are here. Some are coming with families,” said Rob Mingay, Woodfibre LNG’s new vice-president of corporate affairs, who stepped into the role in September.

Mingay told The Chief the company has heard criticism that the lease is taking away housing from those locals who may need it, but he said his understanding is that the building the company leased would not have been built without the commitment from the project to lease it.

“It will go eventually – after about three or four years – back into the Squamish rental market,” he added.

The BC Environmental Assessment Office will provide a 30-day public comment period as part of their review of the amendment for the floatel. Woodfibre LNG will continue to engage with directly impacted marine users to ensure concerns are being addressed, the company said. Questions about the floatel can be submitted at www.askwoodfibrelng.ca.

Meanwhile, a Fortis BC and Woodfibre LNG Community Table was held in Squamish on Oct. 22. About 20 people attended, including My Sea to Sky, for the Woodfibre portion of the day.

“We wanted to get some feedback on how we might better integrate into the community, some of their concerns about the project,” said Mingay.

The feedback was “helpful,” he added.

A date for a final investment decision hasn’t been set, according to Mingay.

“We are making steady progress toward an FID,” is all he could say on the matter.

“You are going to be hearing and seeing more from us,” he said. “We have been pretty quiet for the last couple of years.”

The company is onboarding a couple of new people a week in management positions, Mingay said.

“We have taken a whole floor in Vancouver – corporate offices. So, we are moving along and we are optimistic we are going to be able to proceed very soon.”

Remediation has continued on the Woodfibre site, he said. “We found 400 discarded tires, which were just kind of thrown away. It was a real mess.”

 

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