Tsawwassen First Nation votes down LNG plant

Environmental concerns, lack of benefits cited as TFN members vote 53 per cent against liquefied natural gas terminal

Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams outside Fortis BC's Tilbury LNG expansion project in Delta.

Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams outside Fortis BC's Tilbury LNG expansion project in Delta.

Tsawwassen First Nation members have narrowly defeated their chief’s proposal to pursue a liquefied natural gas plant on their treaty lands.

The project, in partnership with Fortis BC, would have been the third LNG export project proposed in the Lower Mainland.

The vote Thursday was close – 53 per cent or 74 TFN members opposed the concept, while 46 per cent or 65 members supported it. Voter turnout was 48 per cent of eligible members.

“The community does not believe there are enough benefits to support this project moving forward,” said Chief Bryce Williams, who had agreed to take the concept to TFN members. “The main concerns were probably environmental concerns, with the project based in the industrial lands, and with the extraction of natural gas.”

Williams ruled out any reconsideration of LNG, despite the close vote.

“I won’t be revisiting this concept.”

The project would have offered various benefits and revenue for the first nation, and up to 100 long-term jobs for members.

The plant would have cooled about four million tonnes of natural gas per year for export by tanker via Deltaport. It would have been bigger than the Woodfibre LNG proposal near Squamish but much smaller than the largest LNG plant proposed at Prince Rupert.

The decision means the Tsawwassen First Nation leadership will return to their strategy of seeking light industrial or warehousing tenants on remaining unleased TFN industrial lands, including the 32-hectare property eyed for the LNG plant.

TFN officials said logistics based warehousing will actually generate more construction and long-term operation jobs than LNG would have.

Another LNG export proposal just upstream would see LNG carriers load from a proposed jetty on the Fraser River beside the existing Fortis LNG plant.

There’s no word yet on whether Fortis BC and partners Mitsui and Nexterra are in pursuit of a new site for the proposed plant.

The TFN’s biggest business initiative under construction is its Tsawwassen Mills and Tsawwassen Commons shopping centres that open next year with two million square feet of retail space, as well as nearby single and multi-family housing.

The vote Thursday was close – 53 per cent or 74 TFN members opposed the concept, while 46 per cent or 65 members supported it. Voter turnout was 48 per cent of eligible members.

“The community does not believe there are enough benefits to support this project moving forward,” said Chief Bryce Williams, who had agreed to take the concept to TFN members. “The main concerns were probably environmental concerns, with the project based in the industrial lands, and with the extraction of natural gas.”

Williams ruled out any reconsideration of LNG, despite the close vote.

“I won’t be revisiting this concept.”

The project would have offered various benefits and revenue for the first nation, and up to 100 long-term jobs for members.

The plant would have cooled about four million tonnes of natural gas per year for export by tanker via Deltaport. It would have been bigger than the Woodfibre LNG proposal near Squamish but much smaller than the largest LNG plant proposed at Prince Rupert.

The decision means the Tsawwassen First Nation leadership will return to their strategy of seeking light industrial or warehousing tenants on remaining unleased TFN industrial lands, including the 32-hectare property eyed for the LNG plant.

TFN officials said logistics-based warehousing will actually generate more construction and long-term operation jobs than LNG would have.

Another LNG export proposal just upstream would see LNG carriers load from a proposed jetty on the Fraser River beside the existing Fortis LNG plant.

Fortis BC officials refused to say whether they and partners Mitsui and Nexterra are now in pursuit of a new site for the proposed plant. Fortis BC issued a statement saying only that it respected the outcome of the vote and thanked TFN for considering the concept.

The TFN’s biggest business initiative under construction is its Tsawwassen Mills and Tsawwassen Commons shopping centres that open next year with two million square feet of retail space, as well as nearby single and multi-family housing.