Mayor Luke Strimbold congratulates the newly elected chief and council of Burns Lake Band. (L-R) Coun. Gilbert George

Burns Lake Band elects new chief

Dan George, the newly elected chief of Burns Lake Band, plans to support LNG pipeline projects.

Dan George, the newly elected chief of Burns Lake Band (Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation), said supporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline projects in the area could be a way to attract investments to the area.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get out of poverty,” said the new chief.

George, who had been a councillor for the last two terms, said the Burns Lake Band receives less financial support from the government compared to other bands in the province due to the “small size” of the band.

“We are such a small band and we rarely get any money,” he said. “That’s why we believe in economic development, to sustain ourselves and not have to rely on government money to run our programs.”

George said some of the band’s new economic development projects “are still confidential,” but that supporting LNG pipelines is definitely one of them.

“LNG is 10 times cleaner than oil, easier to clean up, and gas dissipates so you are not going to have environmental damages like oil does,” he said.

New elected councillor, Daniel Cunningham, said people in the area won’t be able to rely on the forestry sector for much longer, and that investing in LNG pipelines would be the best economic development action.

Along with Cunningham, Gilbert George was also elected as councillor during the Oct. 22 elections. The council’s two-year term started on Oct. 23, 2014.

Ryan Tibbett, who was running against Chief George, received 25 votes against 41 for the new chief. Six candidates were running for the two spots on council. Cunningham and Gilbert accounted for 35 votes each, followed by Cecelia Sam with 24 votes, Ron Charlie with 23, Pius Charlie with 10 and Ann Marie Tibbett with nine votes. There were 74 ballots cast, which represent 70.5 per cent of eligible voters.

The current term for council is two years, but Chief George said he has plans to extend council terms to four years. If approved by voting, the four-year terms wouldn’t start before the 2016 elections.