The Wet’suwet’en First Nation signed an agreement with the province for the proposed Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project.
The Wet’suwet’en First Nation, that has approximately 240 members, will receive approximately $2.8 million from the province at three different stages in the CGL project: $464,000 upon signing the agreement, $1.16 million when pipeline construction begins, and $1.16 million when the pipeline is in service. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation will also receive a yet-to-be-determined share of $10 million a year in ongoing benefits per pipeline.
Chief Karen Ogen said pipeline benefits agreements are “just one vehicle driving Wet’suwet’en’s participation in LNG development.”
“While these agreements ensure First Nation communities share in the economic benefits of LNG, we are working collaboratively with the province and other First Nations to ensure environmental priorities are addressed as well,” she said.
In the story ‘Early pipeline warnings’ published in the Lakes District News’ Feb. 20, 2013, Chief Karen Ogen articulated her concerns for the pipeline project which was then in its preliminary stage of its provincial environmental assessment (EA).
“Before we can consent to anything,” Ogen said in January 2013, “we need all the information on our end. All the way through the process of the EA, consultation should be happening, not just a one-time meeting and that’s it.”
Ogen insisted back then that the “processes and protocols” of her people needed to be followed, and not just the mandate established by the environmental assessment office.
“Band leaders are the spokespeople for our people,” Ogen said in 2013. “But we still go back to the community for major decisions.”
The province issued an environmental assessment certificate for the proposed Coastal GasLink project this fall. In addition to meeting conditions set out in the environmental assessment certificate, the project will now require various federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed.
Pipeline benefits agreements with First Nations are part of the B.C. government’s comprehensive plan to partner with First Nations on LNG opportunities.
“Provincial benefit-sharing offers First Nations resources to partner in economic development, complements industry impact benefit agreements that provide jobs and business opportunities, and is a way for government and First Nations to work together to help grow the LNG industry,” stated a press release from the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, said too many First Nation communities have been left out of economic growth in B.C. for far too long.
“It’s exciting to be able to partner with First Nations like the Wet’suwet’en so they can share in the benefits of a new LNG export industry – stronger economies, good-paying jobs and collectively working to establish environmental legacies made possible by LNG development,” he said.
The province has also reached pipeline benefits agreements with the
Skin Tyee First Nation and the Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band for the proposed Coastal GasLink project, and with the Nisga’a Nation for the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline project.
The B.C. government anticipates signing similar agreements with other First Nations in the near future.