Floating housing for LNG workers rejected by Squamish

Plans to use a renovated cruise ship to house more than 600 workers as they build a liquefied natural gas facility near Squamish, B.C., have been voted down by the local council.

The ship arrived in B.C. waters in January after a 40-day journey from Estonia, where it had sheltered Ukrainian refugees, but Woodfibre LNG didn’t obtain a permit from the district to operate the so-called “floatel.”

Squamish councillors voted three to four against a one-year permit at a meeting on Tuesday that raised concerns about the safety of women and girls, traffic issues, waste management and potential natural hazards.

Woodfibre wanted workers to start living on the ship this spring on the shores of Howe Sound, outside Squamish.

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The Woodfibre website shows the B.C. and federal governments have approved the project, which also has an environmental certificate from the Squamish Nation.

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Click to play video: 'Floating hotel proposed for Woodfibre LNG work site'

Floating hotel proposed for Woodfibre LNG work site

Several councillors with the district noted in Tuesday’s meeting that the LNG project was not at issue, rather the decision was whether to allow the floating work camp to be used.

Tracey Saxby, the executive director of the advocacy group My Sea to Sky, issued a statement saying Woodfibre knowingly chose to take the risk of bringing the vessel to B.C. waters without approval from the district to anchor it at the site.

“Community members, who are on the front line of this LNG export project, raised concerns about human rights impacts for women and girls, worker safety and well-being, traffic safety, and waste disposal,” she says in the statement.

There are “so many unknowns,” she says, and the company’s application is missing key information the community needs to make an informed decision.

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