Can tourism and industry co-exist? As a Squamish resident I feel that the two are not mutually exclusive. North Vancouver is an example of healthy co-existence between industry and tourism. The waterfront is host to CN Rail yards, Seaspan, Neptune Bulk Terminals and Canexus Limited. Nearby is the Lonsdale Quay Market and further inland are the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Cleveland Dam, and Grouse Mountain.
I would argue that, to a less intense level, this similar coexistence can take place in Squamish as well.
The District of Squamish (DOS) via the OCP has strategically maintained, for economic growth and development, the “industrial” zoning of the Woodfibre site. No other proponent has stepped forward since the pulp mill closure in 2006 with a viable offer. Aside from industry, who has the resources to take on remediation and the environmental liabilities in perpetuity?
This decaying industrial site is receiving $8,000,000 worth of remediation for a Certificate of Compliance from the BC Ministry of Environment. WLNG has taken on this financial burden to clean up the site with no guarantee of project permitting. Furthermore, they have engaged key tourism operators to discuss aesthetic enhancements. How better to define the intent of an emerging community partner than this commitment?
The site lends itself well to a LNG liquefaction and export facility, as it is a deep sea port with an existing pipeline and access to the hydro grid. LNG is also much cleaner than a pulp mill – it is odourless and does not have associated smokestacks and plumes as some have suggested.
WLNG’s decision to run on electricity is also something that should not be overlooked and shows that community feedback is still relevant and not merely a box to be checked.
Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada states, “WLNG intends to link its facility directly to the BC Hydro grid, which delivers 92% clean and renewable electricity. As a result, at least from a carbon-pollution perspective, its LNG would indeed beat the global gold standard for carbon pollution”.
I’ve also heard opponents say that WLNG’s property tax contribution would be minimal. This is not true. I attended a recent small group meeting hosted by WLNG on June 16, where local taxation was raised. Councillor Doug Race indicated that the mill rate is $27,500 per $1,000,000 in valuation for heavy industrial users. He continued, if WLNG was assessed (by BC Assessment) at 1/17 of the estimated cost to build, the municipality can expect to collect $2,700,000 in taxes. $2.7M is not a small amount, particularly to those that have seen double digit property tax increases since 2006. It has been a struggle for many to pay the bills for their homes and businesses.