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‘Floatel’ anchored off Nanaimo ordered to Squamish

Squamish yet to give former cruise ship-turned LNG construction crew quarters permission
A renovated cruise ship known as a “floatel” is seen at anchor in the harbour in Vancouver, on Thursday, May 9, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A British Columbia government agency has ordered a liquefied natural gas company to deploy a cruise ship that’s been renovated to house workers near Squamish, B.C.

A statement from Woodfibre LNG says it has received a compliance order from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office requiring it to move the vessel to its designated area in Howe Sound from its current mooring off the coast of Nanaimo.

The District of Squamish has yet to issue a temporary use permit allowing the so-called floatel to be anchored offshore at the LNG construction site.

But an inspection record from the B.C. assessment office says the project carries a requirement that any workers who didn’t live in Squamish before Sept. 20, 2023, must reside on the floatel unless they’ve been granted an exemption.

It says the inspection found about 300 workers were living at a construction camp in Port Mellon, north of Gibsons, B.C.; 30 were in Squamish hotels; and a further 87 workers weren’t living in either of those locations.

The document says those accommodations aren’t in compliance with Woodfibre’s environmental assessment certificate for the project.

The floatel ship arrived in B.C. waters in January after a 40-day journey from Estonia, where it had been converted to shelter Ukrainian refugees.

A report from Squamish district staff related to Woodfibre’s temporary use permit is listed as an agenda item for the district’s meeting on Tuesday.

Squamish councillors voted three to four against a one-year permit at a meeting in May, where those opposed to the plan raised concerns about the safety of women and girls, traffic issues, waste management and potential natural hazards.

Councillors have since voted to refer the issue back to staff and direct them to work with Woodfibre on increasing the security deposit for the floatel to $10 million.

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