Following an environmentally focused public comment session in late September, Aurora LNG hosted two comprehensive open houses to the Prince Rupert and Port Edward public last week.
While the earlier submissions from the public were mainly around the environmental concerns that Aurora LNG’s project raised – a joint venture between Nexen Energy and INPEX Gas British Columbia Ltd. proposing to construct an LNG export terminal on the tip of Digby Island – last week’s open houses were an input free-for-all for residents of nearby communities to voice their concerns or support around all aspects of the proposed project.
Unlike the Lelu Island-based Pacific NorthWest LNG project’s timeline of expecting a final investment decision (FID) in the coming months, Aurora LNG is years from an FID and is in the information-gathering stages at this point in time.
The company expects to submit its environmental assessment application in the spring or summer of 2016, with construction on the terminal beginning in 2020 and first shipment occurring in 2024.
Many Dodge Cove residents were in attendance at Thursday’s Prince Rupert open house, including Sarah Brown, who noted that the facility’s placement is very close to the community of Dodge Cove.
“It’s about a half-kilometre away and [residents of] Dodge Cove have been very clear that this is too close … They’re going to remove the entire forest down to bedrock and replace it with a gas plant, so we’re going to have emissions. It will affect our air and water, it will affect our watershed and the plants and animals and birds and everyone who uses the island, but also it’s only three kilometres from Prince Rupert, so Prince Rupert’s going to see noise, light, emissions, you name it,” Brown said.
Andrew Hamilton, Aurora LNG general manager of site development stated that all feedback will be taken during these open houses and thoroughly studied.
“We’ll talk about the type of role we see playing in the community, what we understand the marine and shipping aspects to be – and this is really more to give the public a chance to come and tell us what they’re expecting from a development in their community.
“[We want to know] what’s important to them because we can sit and guess as much as we want, we’re going to guess wrong,” said Hamilton.
“When we chose the Digby Island site after a site selection process and began to look a little more closely at it, Dodge Cove raised concerns and they’re very close – anyone who looks at a map can see that … so we’ve been having conversations with them.
“We really don’t have any answers at this point in time. We’re working to understand what’s really important to them. It’s hard to say where those conversations will go,” he added.
“The reality is we’re still in the early stages of this project and we haven’t sanctioned this project. We haven’t made our FID and so we’ve got a lot of years of planning left to go … and we’re hoping, during that time period, to work with the entire community, not just Dodge Cove but Port Edward, Prince Rupert, Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams – everybody in the region to find a way that we can become a valued part of the community.”