Squamish chides Woodfibre for lack of consultation

Woodfibre responds by saying it will re-adjust to suit the District’s needs

Rendering | Woodfibre LNG

During the first council meeting after summer break, Squamish council members and staff criticized Woodfibre LNG for what both called a lack of consultation on several plans involving the project.

At issue are Woodfibre’s management plans, which were mandated by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office.

The three plans cover community services and infrastructure; marine transport; and traffic control.

These documents are intended to show how Woodfibre will manage or minimize its impact on the community and its surrounding environment.

They must be sent to the EAO before construction can begin.

As part of the EAO’s conditions, the plans must be developed in consultation with local government, among others.

One of the main problems municipal staff and council had was the 30-day period given to comment.

Woodfibre’s consultant, Hemerra, presented the plans to the District in late July, just before council’s yearly August break.

“Both WLNG and Hemmera are aware that council does not meet in August in any year, but proceeded regardless,” reads the municipal staff report attached to Tuesday’s council agenda.

“A request for an extension to the 30 days was made to Hemmera, but declined without rationale. A similar request to WLNG was rejected.”

Councillors agreed with the sentiment that this was not fair.

“Frankly, when I saw what this was when I got the agenda package, that we have three large reports forwarded to us, for 30-day consultation during a 30-day break from council, it really felt like we were trying to be worked around,” said Coun. Armand Hurford.

“Which does not come anywhere close... to anyone’s definition of consultation. So, I was disappointed that this is where we are.”

During the meeting on Sept. 3, all of Squamish’s elected officials voted in favour of informing the Environmental Assessment Office, or EAO, that the District was not sufficiently consulted with respect to several documents related to the project.

“Woodfibre LNG really has fallen short in consultation and in content,” said Coun. John French. “And they need to hear that. And I think they have already heard it, because I have seen some correspondence that indicates Woodfibre LNG saw that this was not well-handled and indicating they’re going to address that. Nonetheless, I think it’s important for us to get on the record our feelings of how this came to us.”

Woodfibre has responded by saying it will re-adjust its timelines to suit the District’s needs.  “We recognize that tight timelines, especially during the summer holidays, are a challenge,” wrote Woodfibre spokesperson Rebecca Scott in an email to The Chief Tuesday. “The District’s point of view is tremendously important to us, so we are willing to push our timelines back a little bit in order to make it easier for them to provide input.”

Woodfibre also said that it will be changing the way it will go about working with the District.

“The District has since been in touch to propose a new method for consultation with them, which we will adopt,” wrote Scott.

“We hope this new process provides clarity and certainty for the District, and for our project.”

District staff’s comments — as well as council’s resolution — also said there was a lack of details in the Community Services and Infrastructure Management Plan, especially regarding the company’s workforce housing needs.

“It is not a plan at all, and is not acceptable and needs to be completely overhauled,” reads the municipal report. “In its current form, it is not ready for review or comments.”

However, Woodfibre says the documents it presented to the District were meant to spark a more in-depth conversation.

“Many sections of the management plans have been left deliberately open to better allow us to incorporate feedback from the District and community,” wrote Scott.

“It’s important to note that the plans in their current form are a starting point for discussion and consultation, and far from a final product. We look forward to sitting down with District officials to go through them in detail.”

Squamish Chief