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Slight traffic increase expected as steel pipes arrive for FortisBC pipeline in Squamish

Local officials express frustration over the timing and transparency of information regarding the gas pipeline project.
A gathering of about 25 demonstrators from Squamish and the Sea to Sky Corridor with the organization My Sea to Sky was outside of Municipal Hall before the council meeting, stating their disapproval of the projects.

Steel pipe for the FortisBC Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline project will be delivered on Tuesday, Oct. 24, to Squamish.

On Oct. 17, at a regular business meeting, the general manager of Community Planning and Sustainability, Julie Wengi, told council that they had recently been informed of the pipe delivery.

Wengi said the delivery will take the pipes from the Squamish Terminals to the FortisBC construction staging location between the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays and between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturdays for an anticipated period of three weeks.

A spokesperson for FortisBC emailed the same timeframe to The Squamish Chief several hours before the Oct. 17 council meeting and relayed that it would add about a 1 to 3% increase in traffic.

“As transportation of the pipe gets underway, staff will remain in close contact with FortisBC to monitor any issues that arise,” said Wengi.

However, Wengi called the timing of the pipe delivery news “quite constrained” when asked about FortisBC’s communication. Wengi would later say that they had initially been informed of the pipe movement on Oct. 4, but by a third party, not FortisBC.

While council voted unanimously to receive the information provided by District staff, several council members again relayed their aggravations with the communication about the pipeline project, among some other concerns.

Coun. Jenna Stoner called the short communication timeline for the pipe “extremely frustrating” but expressed optimism that the staff were doing their best.

“It is incredibly frustrating that we're having trouble getting the information,” said Coun. Chris Pettingill.

“We've been trying to emphasize throughout this process that we expect transparency, and we're not seeing that frankly,” said Mayor Armand Hurford.

Wengi said that staff continues to engage with Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC about the companies possibly funding more District staff to deal with the “significant amount” of workload from the projects that is beyond taxpayer-funded capacity.

Council was also informed by Kate Mulligan, the economic development officer, that the presentation to council about the temporary use permits (TUPs) for the laydown yard and temporary workforce accommodation will be coming in the next few months.

Hurford noted that setting the council agenda falls to the mayor and said they would keep in mind upcoming holidays to ensure the public can “engage in a meaningful way.”

Later in the meeting, council briefly discussed a letter by the BC Energy Regulator that instructed FortisBC to undertake another 30-day comment period about effluent discharge but also granted a 15-month approval for effluent discharge to “enable construction timelines for the permitted activities.”

In response, council approved by a vote of 5-2 to have Hurford write to the BC Energy Regulator, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and other parties their concerns about how FortisBC’s engagement should not allow the company to bypass the permitting process. Hurford would also ask that the permit be revoked or paused until the regular permit process was complete.

Pettingill, Stoner, Hurford and Couns. Andrew Hamilton and Lauren Greenlaw voted in favour of the motion, whereas Coun. John French and Coun. Eric Andersen opposed it.

A gathering of about 25 demonstrators from Squamish and the Sea to Sky Corridor with the organization My Sea to Sky was outside of Municipal Hall before the council meeting, stating their disapproval of the project.

The executive director of My Sea to Sky, Tracey Saxby, shared in an email to The Squamish Chief a letter from the organization’s legal representation to several B.C. ministers asking to halt the approval for effluent discharge to reconsider the application until “the necessary public consultation period” commenced.

Please note that we updated this story, after FortisBC told us the pipes will be delivered on Tuesday, rather than Monday as they first stated.

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