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Construction of FortisBC's Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline set to begin in Squamish

Residents are most likely to see work beginning first at the BC Rail and Woodfibre LNG sites.
Equpiment for FortisBC’s Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) for the Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline Project arrived in Squamish in June.

Construction on FortisBC’s Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline Project, which is necessary for the upcoming Woodfibre LNG export facility, is set to begin. 

The company has sent out notices to locals and the media stating that work will begin in Squamish on or after Aug. 28.

The project will be "constructed in accordance with the terms and conditions of all applicable permits, authorizations, and agreements," the company says.

Residents are most likely to see work beginning first, primarily at the BC Rail and Woodfibre LNG sites. 

“Initial construction activities will include mobilizing equipment and materials, setting up construction offices, preparing the work sites for construction, fencing, flagging, vegetation, tree clearing and more," a spokesperson for FortisBC told The Squamish Chief. 

The company expects up to around 150 non-local workers to be in town for the work, at peak, in 2023. 

"Our tunnel workers are currently renting rooms in a local hotel, and we’ve committed to not booking additional local accommodation until after Sept.15," the spokesperson said. 

"After this date, workers may live in local accommodation until the temporary workforce lodge is operational, pending approval of the temporary use permit by the District of Squamish."

FortisBC has received an icy reception from Squamish council in regards to the applications for temporary use permits. Councillors have been critical of what they say is a lack of information and planning by FortisBC  for its work lodge and laydown yard. The permits were before council for feedback in February and July. They have yet to be granted.

The temporary use permits are scheduled for a council meeting on Sept. 26, at Brennan Park Recreation Centre. A public meeting will be held before the council decision, according to the District. 

 “FortisBC is required, as per the conditions of its Environmental Assessment Certificate # E16-01, to notify the Environmental Assessment Office and Aboriginal groups that it will commence construction of the Eagle Mountain Pipeline and tunnel 30 days in advance of the start of construction. On July 28, FortisBC notified the District of their intention to begin construction on the Eagle Mountain Gas Pipeline project on or after Aug. 28,”  District spokesperson Rachel Boguski said in an email to The Squamish Chief.

FortisBC does already have its Environmental Assessment Certificate from the provincial Environmental Assessment Office, as well as the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Environmental Assessment Agreement. 

The pipeline project is also regulated by the BC Energy Regulator, previously called the BC Oil and Gas Commission. That regulator has granted the permits required to begin construction.

According to the news release, all told, the FortisBC construction related to Woodfibre LNG will include:

  • The pipeline: An approximately 38 kilometre-long and 24 inches in diameter natural gas pipeline that begins north of the Coquitlam Watershed, runs through the Hixon Creek, Indian River and Stawamus River Valleys and the District of Squamish. Other pipeline components include a three-kilometre twinning of an existing FortisBC pipeline in Coquitlam, and the relocation of a section of an existing FortisBC pipeline in Squamish. 
  • Pipeline tunnel: An approximately nine-kilometre tunnel that starts at the Squamish BC Rail site, runs under the Skwelwil’em Squamish Estuary Wildlife Management Area, and ends at Woodfibre LNG. The tunnel will be constructed using tunnel boring machines starting from two entry points — or portals — at each end of the tunnel: the East Portal at the BC Rail site and the Woodfibre Portal at the WLNG site. 
  • Facilities: This includes the installation of electric-drive compression at the existing Eagle Mountain Compressor Station in Coquitlam, as well as an electric substation and power lines. It also includes a new gas turbine-powered Squamish compressor station, relocation of a section of the existing FortisBC natural gas pipeline and a custody transfer station at the Woodfibre LNG site. 
  • Supporting temporary and permanent infrastructure: This includes access roads, laydown areas, use of existing barge landing and quarry sites, mainline block valves, and a Temporary Workforce Accommodation Lodge. 

For more on the project, go to the company’s website