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'Floatel' Uncertainty Continues

District Council, WLNG disagree on interpretation of EA order

photo: Bridgemans

The District of Squamish Council procedure to approve a temporary use permit (TUP) for Woodfibre Liquefied Natural Gas (WLNG) floating worker housing on the MV Isabelle (also known as the 'floatel') came to an abrupt halt on June 18 following an number of unexpected developments.

On June 4 at the last District of Squamish council meeting, staff were tasked with seeking more information from WLNG before Council would agree to issue the TUP. The issues at hand included:

  • Increasing the security deposit to $10 million

  • Identifying the risks, if any, that Henrietta Dam poses to the floatel.

  • Identifying the cumulative impacts arising from the WLNG and Fortis projects.

  • Seeking an understanding of current compliance with the project's conditions.


At a Committee of the Whole meeting held June 18, staff returned to Council with a report to address these issues. The report included in the meeting agenda contained a letter from WLNG President Christine Kennedy with her responses to Council queries.


Speaking before Council, Kate Mulligan, Director of Major Projects – Industrial, said she had been prepared to present the report. However, she said that staff had been notified that WLNG was found to be out of compliance with the specifications of the Environmental Assessment (EA) certificate that had been issued regarding the housing of workers. Mulligan said that as a result of this finding, the province issued an order, a summary of which is pictured below.

Following the order, WLNG withdrew their application for a temporary use permit, indicating that it no longer required a permit, since it planned to comply with the order.

In the discussion that followed, Mayor Armand Hurford said that Council disagreed with WLNG's interpretation of the order.

"The EA compliance office has issued this provincial order. This order has been interpreted by the proponent to supersede the jurisdiction of the District of Squamish, and here we differ in opinion."

Hurford said he believes the order directs WLNG to resolve the issues and work through the TUP process, but that WLNG has chosen to withdraw from the process. He noted that this leaves the two parties in disagreement and the "next steps remain to be seen."

He added that there are "specific mechanisms" for the provincial government to override municipal authority, but said that this order is not one of them.


Councillor Jenna Stone noted that a great deal of work was undertaken by both staff and WLNG, and she was disappointed that the resultant discussion would no longer take place.

No further actions were identified by council before the very brief meeting adjourned, so it is unclear whether residents of Átl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound will expect to see the MV Isabelle steaming into port at Woodfibre by this Friday afternoon, or not.

The Watershed will continue to follow this developing story.

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Great reporting regarding all the facets and the legality of the Floatel

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