LNG remains focus at Squamish roundtable 

MP Goldsmith-Jones hosts Climate Change forum

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - CLIMATE CHANGE Squamish residents still have much to say about the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant south of town.
  • file photo
  • CLIMATE CHANGE Squamish residents still have much to say about the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant south of town.

The Sea to Sky's federal MP was in Squamish this month hosting a forum on climate change, and unsurprisingly the controversial Woodfibre LNG proposal remained top of mind for many in attendance.

Roughly 75 residents were at Quest University on July 8 for the Climate Change Policy Roundtable, hosted by West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP Pam Goldsmith-Jones.

"We know how central Woodfibre LNG is, pro or con, and we're not trying to avoid that. What is our responsibility?" Goldsmith-Jones said of the LNG plant planned for Howe Sound.

"I think there's a high expectation of me to represent the public interest and given the process we have, which people seem to think was not that good, we have many conditions that run with ultimate approval, but some of them are major, and we talked about that. One was the seawater cooling system in the plant itself and the other is marine safety."

Many of the same concerns that have come up throughout the LNG debate were voiced at the meeting. Chief among them was the environmental-assessment process that granted Woodfibre federal approval earlier this year.

"The point that was brought up over and over again was just the lack of trust in the environmental-assessment process, and that needs to be fixed," said Squamish Councillor Karen Elliott, who attended the meeting. The Liberals have committed to reviewing the process. "Certainly the federal government has put in interim measures, but that obviously won't satisfy people now that Woodfibre already has its environmental-assessment certificate."

But LNG wasn't the only topic on the agenda. Residents also brought up how to better involve youth in the climate-change discussion.

"(One) gentleman spoke about how young people have a lot of ideas and this is the planet they will inherit, so just in terms of natural justice, they should be at the table as part of the conversation around what policies get developed and the targets that are set," Elliott said.

Last year's international climate talks in Paris, as well as the environmental targets Canada has set for itself, also came to the fore at the meeting. Canada has committed to reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions to 524 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020, and has pushed the global community to band together to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, ambitious targets that many critics said Ottawa is not on pace to meet.

"I do think those targets will need to be more aggressive to meet those climate change commitments," said Elliott. "We're seeing the Liberals go in that direction but I think they need to hear often from people across the country that we're encouraging them to be a world leader."

Last month, the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to a continent-wide goal of having 50 per cent of all electricity come from clean-energy sources by 2025 and a reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas industry from 40 to 45 per cent, among other commitments.

"(The North American Climate Strategy) is a pillar of our foreign policy," Goldsmith-Jones said. "I think that's exciting and I can't imagine working harder or faster toward that goal. But now our job is to include everybody in getting there."

The roundtable was the first of several planned this summer throughout the riding, and Goldsmith-Jones said there is a chance another meeting will be held in Squamish.

"I really think that Squamish is particularly well-positioned to influence the national agenda," she added.



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