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Steelhead LNG’s Howe Street Executive Demands Surreal Surrender By CVRD Elected Officials

Kevin LoganThe newly implanted CVRD CAO Brian Carruthers probably thought he finally arrived when his shop received correspondence from the infamous Howe Street, the Vancouver equivalent to Toronto’s Bay Street and New York’s Wall Street.

But upon opening that bit of Howe Street correspondence any thoughts of new found stardom would have been quickly dashed.

Instead, the strongly worded diatribe’s letterhead bore the logo’s of the Malahat Nation and their “partner’s” Steelhead LNG.

The unprecedented “demands” by both the Steelhead VP of Business Affairs and CEO of the Malahat Nation from their Howe Street Corporate office reads as follows

“Steelhead LNG and the Malahat [sic] hereby demand that the board recuse itself from any matters, and in particular, any decision making, related to the proposed Malahat LNG project.”

Read full letter here

That’s right, some gassed up Howe Street corporate hack “demands” the ENTIRE CVRD board down tools and leave the room when and if Steelhead’s “absurd” project proposal (as defined by the delegation who presented details of the LNG project to the CVRD Board at last nights meeting) ever hits their desk.

It seems passing strange that the letter was neither sent nor signed by the Chief Caroline Harry and Band Council.

CVRD Director - Lori Iannidinardo

CVRD Director – Lori Iannidinardo

This obnoxious display of utter hubris was Steelhead’s reaction to a month old motion tabled by Cowichan Bay’s Lori Iannidinardo that simply set the starting point for anyone considering proposing LNG export related facilities here in the pristine environs of the tourist mecca known as the Cowichan Valley.

Last night’s board meeting was attended by an overflow contingent of concerned citizens who carefully listened to the “ameliorating” message contained in a motion deliberated “in camera” and drafted by CAO Brian Carruthers.

Carruthers, who still cannot decide whether or not his staff have met with the LNG proponent in the standard operating procedure of pre-application meetings (much more on this to come), has been busy working overtime to overturn Director Iannidinaro’s strong but fair warning to those who wish to transform the Valley’s constituents little piece of paradise into a behemoth floating gas station for the economic well being of foreign interests.

CAO Brian Carruthers

CAO Brian Carruthers

The CVRD Board’s unanimous support of Ms. Iannidinardo’s anti-LNG export facility motion was simply the modern day equivalent of placing heads on spikes as a deterrent for those who consider embarking upon this path.

Yet the hapless CVRD CAO decided to bury the already begun application process as both the CVRD chair and dithering director Matteus Clement admitted was already well underway and set about undermining the will of the Valley’s elected officials.

Instead of taking the board’s clear and unambiguous directive the CAO took it upon himself to spend taxpayer’s money on a legal “opinion” that countered the reality that there was nothing wrong with anything the board had done to date as confirmed by renowned lawyer Jack Woodward QC.

The CAO’s play was designed to gin up the Board’s purely political motion as some sort of legal obstruction to the will of the mighty Steelhead’s preposterous LNG proposal. And in so doing leverage the board to back away from the motion that clearly well represents the desire of Cowichan Valley’s majority.

Cobble Hill CVRD Director Matteus Clement

Cobble Hill CVRD Director Matteus Clement

The letter’s outrageous and unprecedented demands to sideline the entirety of the Cowichan’s politicians in one fell swoop well embodies the corporate sense of entitlement of today’s big oil and gas outfits. However in making such ludicrous demands this LNG wannabe just blew up any chance of ever achieving the required social license for their misadventure.

CAO Caruthers has still not released the legal opinion he sought and you paid for that drove all of these ridiculous shenanigans, however it hardly matters, because the only legal opinion the good folks of the Cowichan Valley need now is a determination on just exactly who this guy is working for.

Kevin Logan has written exhaustively about LNG developments in BC, some of which has been republished at this blog. Click here to read his historical but now more relevant than ever analysis.


27 comments to Steelhead LNG’s Howe Street Executive Demands Surreal Surrender By CVRD Elected Officials

  • MDP

    The Steelhead / Malahat letter is ill-advised and naive. They’ve reduced what little community goodwill they may have had to nothing with their approach.

  • MDP

    The Steelhead / Malahat letter is ill-advised and naive. The authors have now lost any community goodwill they might have enjoyed in the past. Who’s responsible for their communications strategy? The Donald?

  • pwlg

    FERC, the US regulator, has rejected an LNG export facility license in Oregon. One of the partners of this project, Williams, is the same pipeline company that has partnered with Steelhead. The following article provides details of FERC’s rejection (note the length of time this project has taken to go through US and Oregon State regulatory process…residents in Oregon have been opposing this project since 2004!


    And we think the US has significantly deregulated its regulations but it appears Canada and BC are well ahead of the deregulation game here in Canada that serves proponents and limits opponents.

  • pwlg

    I would ignore Steelhead until they actually produce real documents showing what they intend to build and how they intend to operate and how they intend to deal with the inherent environmental issues these plants present. One of their partners has indicated that they are stepping away from floating LNG design and returning to their roots with floating regasification plants (two different animals) due to the fact that global LNG demand has plummeted.

    Steelhead, with a straight face it appears, weakly argued that the CVRD has already approved a LNG facility in the region, Mt. Hayes. From Steelhead’s letter:

    “The Board’s decision to oppose all LNG facilities in the region is also curious given that the CVRD is already in home to an LNG facility at Mt. Hayes…”

    If this is how they are going to provide information, or rather misinformation, or even disinformation, their thin air proposal full of hot air requires significant investigation for other disingenuous and/or carefully crafted statements.

    Mt. Hayes and what information Steelhead has initially provided and trying to compare the two is pure fantasy at best. Mt. Hayes cost $186 million. Mt. Hayes is a LNG storage facility built high up in the mountains behind Ladysmith. It was built to ensure there would be a back-up of natural gas supply in case that supply was interrupted coming from the lower mainland. It was also built to ensure the supply would be able to handle infrequent peak periods due to long cold snaps.

    Steelhead has indicated their proposal will cost $30 billion! A more than slight difference is scope and size than Mt. Hayes. Steelhead is an export facility and is located closer to Brentwood Bay and Mill Bay than Mt. Hayes is to Ladysmith! Steelhead will operate 24/7, noise and light pollution alone should be enough for those living near the inlet to oppose this project. Flaring will be an issue despite what they indicate. “Normal” in an LNG export plant is very different than what we know as normal. Mt. Hayes provides a service to natural gas customers on Vancouver Island. Steelhead will provide no service to residents here except a handful of jobs that equate to less than 0.001% of all jobs in the region!

    Steelhead uses the infamous apples to oranges comparison in the extreme and residents here should take what they have to say right now with a grain of sea salt. They and their other partner, pipeline company Williams, have yet to produce any relevant documents to their respective federal and provincial governments for assessment and approval or rejection.

    I wonder if Steelhead has sent a similar style of letter to the many First Nations in the area that also opposed and reject Steelhead’s proposal.

  • Donald Friesen

    LNG stated in this news article that they look forward to engaging with local communities. makes you wonder about their credibility when they drafted a letter to CVRD Board stating that the Board should just “go away.” In essence they are saying that the electorate should go away.


  • Donald Friesen

    Well, looks like we are going back in time here with more controversy coming out of the RD and grassroots folks trying to correct their mistakes.

  • anonymous

    Im doing a project in school on LNG and the environmental impacts and my parents told me to look at this site. I plan to take environmental studies later on. Im certainly learning alot about environmental impacts and government .

  • Kevin Logan

    Ryan Patryluk is the other signature on this letter,here is a short bio; Ryan Patryluk started as an articling student at the Vancouver office of Heenan Blaikie in 2001, and followed up with three years as an associate. He left for jobs in New York and London, U.K., and then returned to Heenan Blaikie in 2010. While Patryluk was practising corporate law at the New York office of Clifford Chance LLP ….. found here: http://www.bcbusiness.ca/people/bcs-big-law-firm-shakeup

  • Heidi Groenig

    I think this blog is turning into a bit of a witchunt implicating two staffers who from what I have seen have done nothing wrong. I get that LNG is a big issue but our beef isnt with these guys its with LNG. Its verging on bullying

    • Carla Tweed

      Heidi, we need to stay strong here, we cannot let LNG into our waters. We have to take a stand. What you are seeing on this blog is a call for action. The only bullying going on here is LNG to the Board and staff to the Directors.

  • Kevin Logan

    Worth noting is that the well trained and capable First Nations Lawyer Renee Racette who is the signatory on this letter as the CEO of Malahat Nation, also articled and worked under Jack Woodward QC. The same Jack Woodward QC who wrote the legal opinion supporting the Board’s unanimous anti LNG motion the letter takes issue with. Such irony is striking.

  • Keith A. Williams

    A well written piece Kevin. The CVRD (Board and Staff) have a real track record now of being unable, or unwilling, to be proactive on land-use issues. Think crematorium, SIA, and other lesser publicized situations. The pattern is to be asleep at the wheel, allow a publicly undesireable application to gain a foothold, thus forcing a compromised Regional District and taxpayers to fight from the ground-up, at great financial and emotional cost, to have a bad thing reversed. After the Board’s (Director Iannidinardo excepted) deep bending-over ‘ameliorating motion’ on Wednesday, the reality score is: Steelhead/Malahat LNG 1, CVRD and Cowichan Valley citizens 0. Feels like deja-vu all over again.

  • Lavonne Huneck

    What am I missing? The Bamberton Lands are subject to the South Cowichan OCP. The land use for that area is now in place and does not include pipelines, etc. The Board has unanimously indicated that it does not intend to rezone. One would think any company would be happy to know the “lay of the land” prior to spending money on permits that will go nowhere. UNLESS….. Where is the province on this? Where is the land use authority given to the CVRD under the Local Government Act? This act is province-wide and does not affect just our area. Decisions made from fear never turn out well.

  • Harry Donaldson

    Strange times indeed

    Welcome to the world of politics where perceptions and assumptions are magically turned into facts.

    The opinions on this blog , that seem to be pointing to a common theme(insert white elephant here, two of them for that matter) may just as well be considered facts because its the electorate’s perceptions and assumptions that matter in politics.

    There are times when the electorate may be deemed fickle for their opinions, which may be based on their own bias and passion but there are indeed facts that have been presented to us that make us not necessarily fickle but determined.

    Here are the facts:

    -A unanimous vote questioned by the staff and some of the Directors that raised their hands to oppose LNG.

    – Staff had their lawyer draft a letter warning them of their position.

    – A Director had her own lawyer draft a letter supporting her position.

    -Two Directors publicly presented their “mistake” by voting.

    Now we have an issue of a possible secret meeting between the land use manager and CAO, which was denied by the CAO but yet confirmed by some Directors?

  • Barry Tann

    I hope Richard Hughes, who seems to be a good investigative reporter gets to the bottom of this. Did Caruthers and Blackwell meet with LNG?

    I trust Richard will help us on this!

  • taxpayer 2

    I agree with Carl, imagine a proponent demanding the Board step down from the issue. This is unprecedented. I wonder if Caruthers and Blackwell met with LNG and gave them the idea that we are open for business. I wonder if these two told them that their application would meet with success and they would handle the Board.

    It smells of backroom dealings.

  • Sandy Waters

    The letter is incredible and staff and a couple of Directors need to be strong and support the electorate. I expect my Directors to ignore staff and listen to us.

    Staff should step down from this or be let go

  • Fiona nelson

    Is this article suggesting that senior staff are in lngs pockets? I don’t think so. I think they just are over their heads and made some unforgivable mistakes. They really need to resign and find a job that they are qualified for because it’s obvious they aren’t ready for the responsibilities the position asks of them. My I wish we could have some sophistication from these fellows.

    • Sandy Waters

      Fiona, I hope they do in fact step down – they are obviously over their heads. problem is, who would take them now? Unfortunately we are stuck with them and the problems they are creating in our beautiful region. If they are as arrogant as they seem, they will continue to fight the electorate on this. My answer, well, we will fight back

  • Carl schmidt

    This arrogance doesn’t come from a benign atmosphere. My guess is that lng saw an open window through senior staffs reluctance to support the unanimous vote. You give these people an inch and they take a mile. We can thank senior staff and some pandering directors for this bold position from lng. One wonders what was said to them in this preapplication meeting. Unfortunately the situation becomes more suspect as senior staff stated there was no meeting. In lngs letter they ask the board to step down. I think senior staff should remove themselves from this file or resign. The directors need to assess damage control here.

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