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Construction at the Woodfibre LNG project in Vancouver, which is currently gearing up, will generate economic benefits for the Indigenous Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation).
Woodfibre LNG believes that industry can be an integral part of reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Canada and has forged a unique relationship with the Squamish Nation. This has resulted in the Squamish Nation’s appointment as a regulator of the Woodfibre LNG project – the first Indigenous regulator on a proposed industrial project in Canada.
Endorsing the partnership, Mr Bernd Christmas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nch’kaỷ Development Corporation, the business arm of Squamish Nation, said: “The Woodfibre model is what we are looking for. We do have an amazing IBA, an Impact Benefit Agreement, and when you look at it from a legal perspective, Woodfibre and its components are actually going beyond that agreement, which is very comforting for me as an Indigenous person.
“Squamish Nation is the first Indigenous nation in Canada to sign off on an environmental certificate and we will fully regulate the project.”
Woodfibre LNG is a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas export facility whose site is on unceded Squamish Nation territory, mid-way between Vancouver and Whistler, in British Columbia. For nearly 100 years, the site was used as a pulp and paper operation until it was closed in 2006. Woodfibre LNG has been cleaning up the site since 2017. It is also a historic village known as Swiy̓át and used by the Squamish Nation for seasonal fishing.
Woodfibre LNG received three environmental approvals for the project: from the British Columbia and Canadian governments, and from the Squamish Nation. Woodfibre LNG is a Canadian subsidiary of Pacific Energy Corporation, which is a member of the RGE group of companies.
On April 14, 2022, it issued a Notice to Proceed to prime contractor McDermott International to begin work on the project. Major construction is due to begin in 2023 with substantial completion expected in 2027.
“Now that Woodfibre LNG is moving into construction, we are seeing the economic advantages of this partnership. Woodfibre is ready, willing and able to work with us,” Mr Christmas said.
“What Woodfibre LNG does is to set the benchmark. One, it is willing to be regulated by the Nation Government, and two, it is willing to go beyond the Impact Benefit Agreement.”
Woodfibre LNG believes that by working with Indigenous partners, it can build a better project and bring about responsible economic opportunity to the region, while protecting traditional, water and heritage resources. For instance, it will work with contractors and sub-contractors to ensure that opportunities for Indigenous training, employment and contracting are maximised during construction.
Other major reconciliation measures that Woodfibre LNG has agreed to include:
- Use of air cooling instead of seawater cooling technology (originally proposed by Woodfibre LNG) as the cooling method. Independent studies show that using seawater might have an impact on marine life and the habitat.
- Woodfibre LNG has spent more than CA$13 million on the former paper mill at the site since remediation work began in 2017. About 4,000 creosote pilings, hundreds of old tires and tonnes of rebar and concrete have been removed. The work has created more than 78,000 person-hours of local employment. More than CA$10 million in contracts has been awarded to Squamish Nation companies.
When exports begin, two tugboats will escort the LNG carriers to ensure they stay on course and follow the rules of marine traffic, including speed limits. The escort vessels will also manage the area around the vessel to prevent conflicts with ferries and pleasure craft.
By using renewable hydroelectricity for power, Woodfibre LNG will be the lowest-emission LNG export facility in the world.
“Ideally, the work that we are doing with Woodfibre LNG and Nch’kaỷ Development is going to set the benchmark for future reconciliation in the business community, whether in the industrial sector, retail sector or the real estate sector.” — Mr Bernd Christmas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nch’kaỷ Development Corporation, the business arm of the Squamish Nation.