News & Insights

Open Letter to Squamish Council and Residents


May 17, 2024

Today, Woodfibre LNG issues the following statement in clarification of questions and comments raised over the past several weeks by members of District of Squamish Council.

In 2019, Woodfibre LNG started the process of gathering input from the community about how best to address the influx of hundreds of non-local workers related to the approved project, including the impacts on rental housing, traffic and community services in the small community of Squamish, and the recognized issues related to safety of women and girls in relation to major industrial projects.

Woodfibre LNG received thousands of comments – and listened, heard, and responded. In addition to public comments, the District of Squamish asked the company and regulators repeatedly to house non-local workers outside the community due to low vacancy rates in Squamish. Woodfibre LNG responded by investing $100 million in the community-driven solution of a floatel to be moored at the project site seven kilometers outside the community.

Despite approvals for the floatel being in place from the provincial, federal and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) governments, the District of Squamish Council has yet to follow suit with their zoning authorization through a temporary use permit (TUP), instead suggesting they require additional information.

“Woodfibre LNG provided all information that was needed to support a District staff recommendation for Council to approve the TUP. Council is aware that the company has made sincere and significant efforts to mitigate impacts of construction on the community of Squamish and has worked with the provincial government and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) to ensure that the best possible solution for worker accommodation is in place. The company has met all the requirements for issuance of a TUP, as well as the regulatory requirements of the provincial, federal and Squamish Nation governments” – Christine Kennedy, President, Woodfibre LNG.

As recently as April 23rd, a councilor suggested that there are better solutions than a floatel. Housing options were considered and discussed with the District over a five-year engagement process, during which the District repeatedly asked the company and regulators to house non-local workers outside the community due to low vacancy rates in Squamish. Woodfibre LNG responded with the floatel – an innovative community-driven solution that effectively mitigates impacts on the Squamish community and that will accommodate up to 652 workers at the project site. If Council had better ideas, they had five years to bring those forward.

Councillors also suggested that information on “cumulative impacts” of the Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC Eagle Mountain Pipeline projects had not been provided, despite regular joint meetings with District staff on these topics. Council is aware that Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC have arranged to accommodate 50 FortisBC contract workers on the floatel. Again, use of a floatel removes impacts related to housing, traffic and additional demand for community services.

A member of Council also alleged potential bias in the development of the Gender and Cultural Safety Management Plan. Management plans are developed by independent qualified professionals, and require approval by the provincial government, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) or both. Woodfibre LNG is extremely proud to have completed this first-of-its-kind management plan in close collaboration with Woodfibre LNG’s Gender Safety Advisory Committee and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). The plan went through consultation and engagement as required by the provincial government, which included incorporation of comments from the District of Squamish. The plan was approved on May 14, 2024. A member of the District Council also sits as an observer on Woodfibre LNG’s Gender Safety Advisory Committee.

“We heard that Council felt that they are under no obligation to rush a TUP decision or approval. However, refusing to approve the TUP runs counter to Council’s interests in seeing impacts of construction on the community mitigated. Some members of Council seemed to interpret the TUP as an opportunity to debate the merits of an already-approved project that is well into construction rather than focusing on the zoning decision before them, which is bound by criteria established in the Official Community Plan. Woodfibre LNG remains committed to the floatel as the solution to comfortably house our non-local construction workforce and to achieve the objectives sought by the District over the last several years. We will continue to ensure the facts related to this important investment are known.” – Christine Kennedy, President, Woodfibre LNG.

Those facts include:

  • The floatel was approved by the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office in November 2023, establishing a robust set of conditions to ensure the best possible outcomes for both the community and the on-board workforce during the construction period.
  • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) is a regulator of the Woodfibre LNG project and approved the floatel in November 2023 following an extensive regulatory assessment. The Nation also established conditions of approval as part of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Environmental Assessment Agreement.
  • Up to 652 non-local workers will be accommodated on the floatel and, by regulation, would not have any access to the community of Squamish. Workers residing on the floatel will be transported to and from the floatel by water from the Lower Mainland for their work rotation. The floatel will provide premiere accommodation at the project site for workers, while having no impact on rental housing, traffic or local community services in the small community of Squamish.
  • All workers on the Project are subject to a Worker Code of Conduct and are required to take in-person cultural awareness and gender safety training delivered by Squamish Nation) trainers prior to starting work.
  • The hard-working men and women that will reside on the floatel are skilled Canadian craftspeople from other regions of British Columbia or other Canadian provinces, not temporary foreign workers. They are accustomed to living in camp environments and are looking forward to accessing the amenities aboard the floatel.
  • By regulation, the floatel is a “dry camp” with zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol. Medical, first aid and security staff will have addictions training, and all employers involved on the project will offer programming to assist any workers struggling with addictions.
  • The floatel will offer a wide array of advanced environmental systems including an ultraviolet water purification system, the ability to run on shore hydroelectric power, industrial heat pumps to heat and cool the vessel, and sewage treatment that includes ultrafiltration and a low intensity UV unit. Treated waste will be shipped by barge to a waste management facility in BC, contrary to claims that garbage and sewage will be trucked down the Sea to Sky Highway. This is confirmed by a Waste Management Plan that is a regulatory requirement of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and that was provided to District staff on April 15, 2024. 
  • Woodfibre LNG is the first project in Canada – across any sector – to develop targeted gender and cultural safety programming, taking guidance from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the first project to have a regulated management plan for Gender and Cultural Safety, which was approved by the BC Environmental Assessment Office on May 14, 2024.
  • District staff recommended conditions for the TUP that would have required a $2 million security deposit. Based on a request from a member of Council, Woodfibre LNG recently provided a letter offering to increase that amount to $10 million.

Other significant facts related to the Woodfibre LNG project:

  • Woodfibre LNG is proud to be the first company in Canada to recognize an Indigenous government as a regulator on a proposed industrial project.
  • The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Environmental Assessment Agreement and Certificate identified 13 conditions that Woodfibre LNG need to meet to ensure the continued support of the Squamish Nation.
  • In March of 2023, Woodfibre LNG announced its net zero roadmap, outlining the steps underway to become the first LNG export facility in the world to achieve net zero – and net zero during construction – a unique commitment for construction projects in Canada. The Woodfibre LNG Project will be net zero 27 years ahead of this being required under government regulations.
  • The Woodfibre LNG Project will use air cooling technology instead of seawater cooling as originally planned. The decision to change to air cooling is the result of the Environmental Assessment Agreement and Environmental Certificate from Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation).

Woodfibre LNG has made every effort to address the concerns of the community and of the District through the use of the floatel for our construction workforce accommodation. It is our hope that the Council sees its way to approve the TUP and enable a workforce housing solution that best addresses the concerns of Squamish residents as well as the needs of our workforce.

Subscribe to our newsletter

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.