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SLRD sees ‘red flags’ in proposed pipeline route

Steelhead LNG eyes 2025 project completion

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The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's (SLRD) board of directors is seeing some early "red flags" around a pipeline proposed to run through its territories.

At the SLRD's regular meeting on Jan. 30, the board heard a presentation from Steelhead LNG—a B.C.-based Canadian energy company currently floating two projects: an LNG plant on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and an accompanying 1,000-kilometre natural gas pipeline.

The proposed routes for the pipeline—which would run from the northeast of the province down near Mount Meager and some sensitive grizzly habitat before transiting under the Salish Sea to Vancouver Island—sparked some discussion at the board table.

"I know this is early stages, but for me, there's some serious geography in there, a lot of unstable geography in there and a lot of very important wildlife in there," said Pemberton director Mike Richman.

"So I know you have to go through your environmental assessment process and that will be addressed in that form, but hearing your presentation, sitting here, contemplating that, there's a lot of red flags going off."

Chief Administrative Officer Lynda Flynn directed the proponents to the SLRD's website.

"As of the middle of December there is a new study on there, which basically says any failure at Mount Meager is catastrophic and will wipe out the Pemberton Valley," Flynn said.

"So do take a look at that."

The terrain is definitely challenging, said Greg Cano, lead for project services with Steelhead.

"I've worked all over the world in international pipelines, and (the Coast Mountains) are some of the most challenging terrain in the world," he said, adding that the company has mitigations in place around slope stability, and that in the case of Mount Meager, the plan would be to drill a tunnel rather than go into unstable areas.

The proposed line is also supposed to have fibre optic sensors for monitoring that would double as an early warning system, Cano said.

"We're very well aware (of the concerns) ... that's why we're talking about multiple corridors and multiple ideas," he said.

"We may find it may not be technically feasible, because of those red flags you've raised."

Discussions for the project began in 2014, and over a three-year period Steelhead reached a relationship agreement with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island. In October 2018, the two parties submitted the Kwispaa LNG Project Description jointly to begin the environmental assessment process.

The two projects—plant and pipeline—each require their own regulatory and environmental assessment processes.

"At this point, (the routes) are not set in stone," Cano said.

"We want to see feedback from nations, from different groups, municipalities, regional districts, to see if we can develop something that is mutually beneficial.

"We are open to any suggestions, and working with any communities as we develop these potential routes for the Steelhead pipeline."

The high-tech fibre optic monitoring could also serve a different benefit for communities along the pipeline, Cano said.

"One of the opportunities that we do have, too, as we develop this, is to provide fibre for communications in communities along the route that don't necessarily have access to high-speed internet or high-speed communications," he said.

The pipeline project description has yet to be filed, Cano said, as Steelhead is still looking for input.

If all goes according to plan, the project will be completed in 2025.

For more on the project, head to www.steelheadlng.com.

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