By Evan Drygas
Published: April 1, 2015
As someone who grew up in Squamish I spent a great deal of my free time hiking, biking, and skiing in the profound wilderness that surrounds us. My connection with our environment runs deep. Four generations of my family have depended on the forest for their livelihood and I grew up understanding that we relied on the environment for both work and play. I learned that industry and tourism could co-exist as long as they both were sustainable.
I hope that we can move past the misinformation and rhetoric that has been propagated by some opponents. False scare stories about non-existent exclusion zones, the notion that Howe Sound is too narrow, subsidized BC Hydro rates and “kill-zones” do nothing to further the productive conversation Squamish needs to have about this project. The world needs our LNG. It’s time to show the world we can make it better than anyone else.
Woodfibre LNG will provide the permanent, good paying, family-supporting jobs that our community needs. The company will provide about 100 jobs that will result in over $8 million in wages to be spent in Squamish. This is in addition to the $2 million plus that the company will pay in property taxes, and tens of millions more that will go into provincial and federal coffers to pay for things like health care and education.
I support Woodfibre LNG because our environment is so important. Soon, the company will remove 3,000 herring roe killing creosote pilings from the foreshore of the site. They will restore Mill Creek and remove contaminated materials from the site ― reversing much of the impact of 100 years of industrial use.
This is a genuine opportunity for Squamish to have a positive impact on the global environment. Woodfibre LNG would provide natural gas to emerging economies that are currently heavily dependent on coal. Fossil fuels still account for 85 percent of the world’s energy, and cleaner fossil fuels are a sure fire way to reduce GHG emissions and the micro-particulate that kills millions.
Much of the natural gas for Woodfibre LNG will come from Hydraulic Fracturing – the same process used for over 50 years in BC, the same process that is currently used to supply our homes and businesses, and to supply exports to the United States. BC regulatory agencies have a great deal of experience with this technology, and are world leaders in doing it safely. BC was the first jurisdiction in the world to require companies to post chemicals they use online for all to see, and the shale in BC is in remote regions, thousands of feet below the levels used for groundwater.
Woodfibre LNG will also be paying higher tariffs for the natural gas and the electricity they will use to compress it. The costs will not be passed onto consumers.
We’re fortunate enough to welcome tens of thousands of visitors every year. Places like Hammerfest in Norway, Barcelona and Boston all have a thriving tourism industry alongside LNG plants. Industry and tourism has co-existed in Squamish for a long time. Why would Woodfibre LNG change anything? We also need to recognize that most of our visitors come in the summer and some businesses struggle after the summer boom. We need a diversified economy that has a strong, year-long base in addition to tourism.
When the pulp mill was built a hundred years ago there was no environmental review process, and little to any environmental monitoring. Times have changed, our EAO environmental review process is stringent, and even the strongest supporter would fully expect Woodfibre LNG to be held to a high standard and meet or exceed all environmental regulation.
We have an opportunity here to increase the number of high-paying local jobs and our industrial tax base. The real question should be how we do it, not if.