hat its Coastal GasLink Pipeline project has signed long-term project agreements with the Burns Lake Band.
These agreements outline financial and other benefits and commitments for as long as the pipeline project is in service. However, specific details of the agreement are “confidential,” according to Shela Shapiro, a Spokesperson for Coastal GasLink.
Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George has also not disclosed how much money the Burns Lake Band will be making out of this agreement.
This wasn’t the first deal signed with Coastal GasLink in the area. In December 2014, Wet’suwet’en First Nation (WFN) signed an agreement with the province to support the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project. Since then, WFN has faced continuous opposition from some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
Chief George said he realizes that some people might be against liquefied natural gas (LNG) development in the region, but he says forestry has been “way more devastating.”
“It’s important to us to find ways to balance the economic opportunity with environmental protection,” he said.
Chief George said the Burns Lake Band will be monitoring the gas line “very carefully” to ensure the environment has as little impacts as possible.
“We are also looking at a First Nations compliance and enforcement regime so we will have the authority to shut down the project if need be,” he said.
Chief George added that this new project agreement reflects that First Nations can collaborate with big companies such as TransCanada.
Blueberry River First Nations and Lheidli T’enneh First Nation have also recently signed deals with Coastal GasLink. This brings the total to nine project agreements that are the direct result of Coastal GasLink’s approach to working with Aboriginal groups.
“These agreements are a reflection of the meaningful way Aboriginal groups are choosing to participate in the long-term development of B.C.’s natural gas industry,” said Rick Gateman, President of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project. “Their important contributions to our project allow us to incorporate their local knowledge into our planning and pipeline design, which is a priority for us.”
Coastal GasLink is proposing to construct and operate a 670-km natural gas pipeline from the Groundbirch area near Dawson Creek, B.C. to the proposed LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export facility near Kitimat, B.C.
The pipeline proponent says the project will create over 2000 jobs during construction and generate over $20 million in annual property tax payments. However, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) recently announced it was taking a careful approach to LNG development in the region.
In a press release, the RDBN said LNG development in the region has the potential to “negatively impact local communities” and place a burden on local infrastructure and services.
According to the RDBN, there are too many unanswered questions regarding the location, operation, and servicing of the large work camps to be built in the rural area. In addition, there is inadequate commitment to utilize wood fibre cut from the pipeline routes, and there is no long-term commitment to support invasive plant management. Furthermore, the RDBN points out that emergency management “remains uncoordinated.”