Gas site has Lions Bay roaring Location across Howe Sound called unsightly, dangerous By Chris Woodall Yes, it's 30 kilometres away on the other side of Howe Sound, it will be painted forest green and it isn't explosive, but Lions Bay Mayor Brenda Broughton says plans for a liquid natural gas (LNG) storage facility will be unsightly and dangerous. Westcoast Gas Services Inc. appeared before Whistler council recently to explain plans for a 170-foot-tall structure that would act as a backup tank for winter peak demand periods for natural gas in Greater Vancouver. The site would connect the tank to the existing Vancouver Island natural gas pipeline. While generally described as being on Howe Sound, the site is 7.5 km inland up a valley. Westcoast Gas says the project will not involve a LNG port shipment facility. According to Westcoast Gas descriptions, map and photographs, you can see the site from Highway 99, but only if you know exactly where to look and only from a 2.3 km stretch of the highway. It will also be possible to see the facility from parts of Gambier Island, which is closer to the site. No one lives within any appreciable distance of the proposed LNG facility on its side of the Sound. The structure will be three times bigger than anything in North America, says Broughton, a volunteer mayor for her community of 1,500, located along an eight-kilometre stretch of Highway 99 north of Horseshoe Bay. Just about all houses in the community enjoy spectacular views of Howe Sound and have an average $400,000 value. The site is in an earthquake zone that could result in a worst-case scenario disaster on the order of a "Hiroshima-sized explosion" or at least a "colossal firestorm," Broughton says. Westcoast, on the other hand, says "third-party geotechnical and seismic studies" have been taken into account and the facility would be built to withstand a tremor reaching 8.5 on the Richter Scale. "Representatives of the Pacific Geoscience Centre confirm there is no evidence of active faults in the area," says Westcoast information. Broughton counters that an earthquake as recent as June of this year was felt all along the Sea to Sky Corridor. As for other mishaps, Westcoast claims that "in more than 50 years, no accidents at an LNG facility have harmed a member of the public." The thought of a 16-storey tower marring the natural beauty of Howe Sound is Broughton's other main concern. "Westcoast is imposing a major facility that flies in the face of this portion of Howe Sound," Broughton says. For its part, Westcoast Gas says site work and the presence of existing trees and other vegetation will mean only the top half of the structure will be seen when at its maximum height. The structure changes height depending on the amount of gas stored in it. The tower will be painted forest green. While the whole debate may seem to be about something far removed from Whistler, Broughton says our connection to Vancouver — and visitors' connection to Whistler via Vancouver — means Whistler should be concerned. "Whistler's absolutely a stakeholder," Broughton says. "It is a great beneficiary of Howe Sound beauty, a link between Vancouver and Whistler that is an icon to attract those 8.3-billion tourist dollars to B.C."