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Here’s what Woodfibre LNG told Squamish council about its ‘floatel’ workforce plans

Some council members said the company lacked public engagement on its management plan for the floatel and workforce; WLNG said they fulfilled EAO requirements.

Woodfibre LNG representatives gave an update about its upcoming management plan for its workforce to District council, which was met with some concern about the company’s public engagement.

At a meeting on May 23, Woodfibre LNG president and vice president, Christine Kennedy and Selena Basi, presented to council about its Community Services and Infrastructure Management Plan (CSIMP). 

Their report summarized themes Woodfibre heard from feedback they garnered including the impact on jobs, housing and policing as well as the potential for gender-based violence with the addition of the temporary workforce, and the compounding effects on the community with this project in addition to the associated Eagle Mountain - Woodfibre Gas Pipeline project.

Coun. Chris Pettingill asked when can the public expect to comment on the CSIMP and other associated plans.

Basi replied that the previous feedback from roundtables conducted with select public representatives, chosen with the help of the District, was incorporated into its plan for approval by the Environmental Assessment Office [EAO]. She also said the document will be made public near the start of construction.

“We've consulted one to one, we've had the roundtables, we're here today and we're happy to take feedback that follows on today,” she said. “We do feel we've fulfilled EAO’s duty as per our certificate.”

Pettingill disagreed.

“The public engagement has not been sufficient,” he said. “In fact, I would say it's been grossly insufficient. The public has a massive interest in this project and it has not been met. And they want to see this plan and they want the chance to provide feedback on it and related plans.”

Mayor Armand Hurford also said it would be of interest to the public for a chance to comment on the plan.

“I’ll add my voice to the sentiment that this plan itself should be consulted more broadly with the public as far as the actual plan, not just the highlights,” he said.

Pettingill later asked if Woodfibre LNG would consider giving the public an opportunity to comment and Basi said they would discuss it internally. 

Kennedy informed council that the workforce living on the floatel, which was listed as up to 800 temporary workers during peak construction, would only leave the floatel for on-duty purposes.

“​​The workforce that is on the floatel is expected to have very little access to the community and certainly no recreational access,” she said.

Kennedy added that workers may come to Squamish for supply purposes or medical emergencies that the floatel was unequipped to handle. Basi said that supply purposes would be only while on duty and transportation would not be for “leisure” or “on an optional basis.”

Additionally, Basi said the floatel will include “medical services [and] emergency services to a degree.”

There will be amenities available to the workers on the floatel, which Kennedy described as a “high-end hotel” with a focus on “healthy living on board.” 

This includes being a “dry camp,” meaning there will be no alcohol as well as policies around drug use. Kennedy did not elaborate further on the policies at the meeting.

Construction is expected to commence in September 2023, with some “pre-mobilization” to occur beforehand, said Kennedy. The floatel is anticipated to be operational by January 2024.

“There is a very slow and gradual workforce curve prior to the floatel and there will be other accommodations made outside the community for that workforce in advance of the floatel," said Kennedy. "So that will take place outside the community boundaries."

Locally hired workers will not be required to stay at the floatel.

The report to council also stated that the Sirocco building would provide 95 “bedrooms” for project management. A spokesperson for Woodfibre LNG, Jayne Czarnocki, told The Squamish Chief in a follow-up email that locally hired workers would travel “to and from [the] site daily via scheduled marine transportation.”

Before these representatives from Woodfibre LNG spoke to council, District staff informed council that its ability to review plans for both Eagle Mountain - Woodfibre Gas Pipeline project and Woodfibre LNG project was being stretched to its limits.

“Extensive engagement on this file, more than that of capacity-funded positions by the proponent, is having a material impact on the ability to process applications and provide a substantive review of related management plans, agreements, etc., within proposed project timelines,” reads the staff memo to council. 

“The District has requested that the proponents consider additional capacity funding to establish a District project management team should FortisBC and WLNG be committed to current project scheduling.”

At the end of the meeting, council summarized specific points of feedback for Woodfibre LNG’s consideration to implement into the CSIMP prior to turning it in to the EAO.

Please note that this story has been updated to reflect a response from Woodfibre LNG about where locally hired workers can reside.