After years of heavy industry in Squamish, marine life is starting to return to Howe Sound, but the Squamish First Nation says it's concerned that trend could be reversed if the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant is approved.

The project would export just over two million tonnes of LNG from an export facility built at the site of the old Woodfibre pulp mill in a boat-access only area of Howe Sound about seven kilometres from Squamish, B.C.

Chief Ian Campbell — a hereditary chief and elected councillor —said with the Squamish First Nation is doing its own assessment of the Woodfibre LNG proposal, which will look at the environmental impact as well as potential economic benefits.

"We've seen a resurgence of revitalization of Atl'kitsem, known as Howe Sound,"  — told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff on Friday morning.

"This is considered a celebration of the return of the herring biomass, the whales, the orcas that are in the water as we speak. This hasn't happened for quite some decades due to the cumulative impacts of industrialization in the early days."

Woodfibre LNG's vice-president of corporate affairs Byng Giraud said the company has already made the commitment to clean the site before it gets started.

"There's 300 creosote piles out front that are actually harming herring habitat as we've been told by some of the locals, so we're actually trying to clean the site up before we begin our construction," he said.

He said once construction is complete, the company has an emergency response plan, which is outlined in Woodfibre's environmental assessment application.

"Will there be an impact? Absolutely. Any industrial activity has an impact, but if you look at this project and what we've tried to do, this is going to be one of the lowest impact LNG facilities in B.C.," said Giraud.

To hear more on this story, click the audio links above:

  • Woodfibre LNG's Byng Giraud
  • Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman
  • Squamish First Nation Chief Ian Campbell