[BC municipalities - Vancouver, Kitimat, Burnaby, and now Squamish - are actively involved and play a significant role in slowing and reshaping projects proposed by the oil and gas industry. In this case, Squamish council has stopped Fortis from test drilling in a Wildlife Management Area. *RON*]
by Damien Gillis, Common Sense Canadian, 21 January 2015
|Squamish council rejects Fortis BC application for test drilling (Instagram/ Dan Prisk)|
The vote came at Tuesday night’s council meeting, which revisited an earlier discussion regarding Fortis’ planned pipeline expansion to feed the Woodfibre LNG plant near Squamish, proposed byIndonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto.
Plan gets bogged down in sensitive area
|Proposed Woodfibre LNG plant|
The Tuesday vote fell 4-3 against the plan, which would involve test drilling for a pipeline to be routed under the Squamish River, through an estuary and Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Council instructed representatives of gas pipeline operator Fortis to come back to it with a plan that avoids the estuary and WMA and doesn’t involve a compressor station being located in the middle of town. Such a route would likely need to involve building the pipeline around the north end of the community, which Fortis complained would be too costly, lengthy and challenging.
A strongly-worded letter from the Squamish First Nation objecting to the company’s proposal appears to have helped sway council.
Back to the drawing board
Despite the heavy attention the issue received during the recent municipal election – which saw an anti-LNG mayor defeat a sitting mayor who favoured the Woodfibre project – and strong opposition from local grassroots groups, the decision came as a surprise to many in attendance.
Retired KMPG partner and My Sea to Sky member Eoin Finn – a leading public critic of the project – predicts that Fortis will now have to withdraw its proposal from the Environmental Assessment process and start from scratch with a new version, “as Fortis had baked in the rejected routing in their application to the BCEAO.”
Local governments get involved
The move by Squamish council is just the latest example of a growing trend of municipal governments inserting themselves into the energy planning process around BC – from Burnaby and Vancouver’s strong stances on Kinder Morgan, to various councils that have stood against the proposed Enbridge pipeline, and a long list of Sunshine Coast and Howe Sound councils which have voted against the proposed Woodfibre project.