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FortisBC challenges council decision

Company feels it met all application requirements to investigate pipeline expansion route



FortisBC has filed a legal petition against the District of Squamish.

The natural gas company filed paperwork with the BC Supreme Court on March 10.

The petition asks the Supreme Court to review a Jan. 20 decision by council to deny FortisBC a development permit.

"It's our position that we met all the application requirements and the District ought to have issued the permits," wrote Fortis spokesperson Michael Allison in an email.

The permit would allow Fortis to investigate a route for a pipeline expansion that would connect to the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant.

"As B.C.'s regulated natural gas utility, FortisBC has a duty to investigate service connections whenever a potential customer contacts us," Allison said.

"The existing system was built in 1990 to bring natural service to Squamish, the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island and has safely operated for 25 years. In 2012, we were contacted to evaluate the possibility of providing natural gas service to the proposed Woodfibre LNG facility.

"Based on the amount of natural gas transportation capacity Woodfibre LNG has requested, we need to expand our system."

The expansion would involve building 47km of pipeline from north of the Coquitlam watershed to the Woodfibre site.

The District of Squamish was not available for comment before deadline.

In a press release, local community group My Sea to Sky said the legal petition is "further evidence of the utility's disrespect of public and local government's role as principal stakeholders of the town."

The town's Official Community Plan and Squamish Estuary Management Plan require council to protect sensitive estuary habitats from industrial development, the release said.

"Mayor (Patricia) Heintzman requested some mapping information in relation to the application. She was doing her due diligence and instead of coming back with the information and reapplying for the permit, FortisBC chose to take the District of Squamish to court," said My Sea to Sky co-founder Tracey Saxby in the release.

"This suggests any effort on FortisBC's part to engage with the community is simply lip service and demonstrates contempt for council and community concerns."