British Columbia

Squamish LNG opponents stage Howe Sound protest

About 300 people gathered in Squamish, B.C., Sunday to protest a planned liquefied natural gas terminal in Howe Sound.

Protesters say increased tanker traffic could harm marine life

Protesters gathered in the rain in Squamish, B.C., Sunday to protest the planned Woodfibre LNG project. (Deborah Goble/CBC)

About 300 people gathered in Squamish, B.C., Sunday to protest a planned liquefied natural gas terminal in Howe Sound.

The protesters described the gathering as a prayer service for the area waterways, which they say could be harmed by the $1.6-billion Woodfibre LNG project.

"Sure if all goes as planned maybe there is no risk but we all know it never goes like that," said organizer Charlene Williams. "It never happens, the smallest mistake can cause big destruction, and it's just not worth the risk."

The event was organized by two groups, My Sea to Sky and Skwomesh Action.

The terminal is to be located on an old mill site at Howe Sound.

Construction is expected to begin next year, and Premier Christy Clark has said the project will start shipping gas to Asian markets in 2020.

The project has drawn criticism since it was first proposed. Some Indigenous and environmental groups say the proposed facility will damage the Howe Sound environment, will hurt tourism and doesn't fit into the future of Squamish.

At Sunday's gathering, protesters said they feared increased tanker traffic could threaten marine life. Some said they would be willing to set up protest camps next year.

The protest came a day after thousands of people marched through Vancouver to protest the planned expansion to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

"This is not simply an Indigenous issue this is an issue of our time," said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip with the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs in Squamish on Sunday.

The federal government will make a decision by Dec. 19 on whether to allow that company to twin its existing pipeline, which carries bitumen from Alberta's oil sands to the Vancouver harbour.

With files from Deborah Goble and The Canadian Press