West Vancouver Council rips into Woodfibre exec over LNG tanker and safety risks

City council reaffirms its earlier unanimous ban on tankers in Howe Sound

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Premier Christy Clark and Sukanto Tanoto Woodfibre LNG

Premier Christy Clark and Sukanto Tanoto Woodfibre LNG during Clark's southeast Asia LNG tour -- B.C. government photo 

The executive was also asked about the company’s singular shareholder Sukanto Tanoto – the controversial Indonesian billionaire, behind Pacific Oil and Gas headquartered in Singapore.  Premier Christy Clark met with this same industrial magnate during her LNG promotional tour of Asia. 

Coun. Bill Soprovich wanted to know if human rights offences and corruption allegations against Tanoto were true.

“As far as I know, that is not true.  Many things are said in the press that I cannot verify,” replied Brigden.

Opposition intensifying

But opposition to the project has been rising.  The District of Squamish heard vocal opposition at a July 15 council meeting, attended by more than 100 local citizens opposed to the project.

No Woodfibre LNG protesters Squamish council meeting Mychaylo Prystupa July 2014

"No Woodfibre LNG" protest outside Squamish council meeting July 2014 - Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa

Then on July 21, West Vancouver’s council unanimously passed what the mayor later described was a “rushed” motion banning tankers in Howe Sound.

There were some fears expressed in media reports that councilors may have been confused about what they were voting for, and might be pressured to reverse its tanker ban. 

Local Conservative Member of Parliament, John Weston, openly criticized the council’s position, saying LNG development was needed to pay for teachers, medicals services and welfare.

“As a result I am a firm believer that the Environment is the Economy as I have indicated many times in the House of Commons,” Weston wrote in a letter.

No social licence, says councillor

But Monday night, a united council reaffirmed its tanker ban.

“I do regret about how this came about, with us making a decision before hearing from both sides,” said Coun. Craig Cameron.

“Having said that…I do think it’s quite evident the proponent has not obtained the social licence for this project,” said Cameron.

A spokesperson for a local citizens’ group celebrated the council’s moves.

“I’m thrilled,” said Sean Lumb, with My Sea to Sky.

“I think there was an attempt to discredit the council, and I really think the proponent didn’t rise to the occasion.”

Sean Lumb Sea to Sky - West Vancouver City Council Meeting - Woodfibre LNG

Sean Lumb with "My Sea to Sky" attending the West Vancouver city council meeting Monday - photo by Mychaylo Prystupa

Councillors stressed that alternatives to LNG were preferred – pointing to major employers such as Microsoft, Sony Pictures, Hootsuite, Google and Amazon – all of whom had been attracted to the region, said Coun. Booth, but don’t post a serious environmental risk.

“That is worth investing in,” said Booth.

Likewise, Coun. Nora Gambioli said:

“The provincial and federal governments need to let go of their Neanderthal economy positions, and get with the 21st century program of other progressive nations.”

“We need to invest in tourism and renewable energy sources, which would create far more jobs, and would be far better for our kids, not to mention the planet.”

“That should be the plan for Howe Sound,” added Gambioli to huge applause from citizens in the chamber, and those just outside.

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