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'Floatel' Now Moored at Woodfibre Site

Critics blast provincial order undermining local council

The 'floatel' passes the Pam Rocks enroute to mooring at Woodfibre on Friday, June 21. Photo by Ron McLaughlin.

After many delays and continuing controversy, the floating accommodation for workers at the Woodfibre LNG (WLNG) plant has been moored near the Woodfibre site on Howe Sound.

The Watershed received numerous sightings on Friday of the MV Isabelle X, more commonly known at the 'floatel', making its way up Howe Sound.

The ship is intended to house up to 350 workers.

In a statement issued Friday, Woodfibre LNG confirmed the floating work camp accommodation has berthed at the project site. WLNG President Christine Kennedy said the company is "pleased to be able to move forward with utilizing the MV Isabelle X to provide comfortable at-site accommodation for our valued workforce while meeting all requirements of our Environmental Assessment Certificate in relation to worker access to the community of Squamish.”

The most current documents on the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) WLNG site are dated June 17, and reflect the most recent inspection and the compliance order.

Shortly after the decision was announced, BC Green Party candidate for West Vancouver - Sea to Sky Jeremy Valeriote released a statement stating his dismay at the order, and condemning what he called WLNG’s "swift and cynical decision" to drop their application for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) for the floatel.

"The EAO and Woodfibre, together with the apparent consent of the NDP government, have undermined the good-faith efforts of Squamish’s elected council to safeguard the interests of communities, and ensure that the floatel is safe to operate in Átl'ḵa7tsem Howe Sound."

"It is imperative that the NDP government explains the EAO’s decisions - and consequences - to the residents of Squamish," added Valeriote.

District of Squamish Councillor Jenna Stoner spoke on Thursday to CBC reporter Stephen Quinn about the planned TUP approval process, noting that everything changed just prior to Tuesday's meeting, when WLNG withdrew their application as a result of the EAO order.

Stoner questioned the legality of the provincial department overriding local municipal authority when it was the proponent, WLNG, who was found to be in violation.

"The company has been housing workers in a manner that is non-compliant and in violation for over six months," said Stoner. She noted that instead of fining WLNG or creating a stop-work order, the EAO overrode the District's permit application process.

She said that outstanding permits are still pending from Vancouver Coastal Health for potable water and sewage holding tanks, so the District permit was not the only incomplete part of the process.

"This is an issue with the EAO, which I really think should be using its power and authority to hold a company accountable for months of violations against the conditions that they set, as opposed to trying to use it's power to over-ride local jurisdiction and authority," Stoner added.

Meanwhile, WLNG portrayed the move as the respectful actions of a responsible corporate entity. "We are particularly proud to see the floatel berthed at site on National Indigenous Peoples Day, and to have the extensive work of our Gender Safety Advisory Committee able to be implemented through our first of its kind Gender and Cultural Safety Management Plan," added Kennedy.

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