Coastal GasLink Reaches Agreements With All Involved First Nations
A big win for TransCanada Corporation today, as it's Coastal GasLink pipeline project has reached agreements with all twenty First Nations communities within the pipeline's route.
The timing of the agreement is an important factor, as a challenge on the pipeline is making it's way through the justice system.
The 670 kilometre pipeline carrying natural gas from Dawson Creek to LNG Canada's proposed terminal in Kitimat is being embraced by the twenty First Nations communities that it will affect. Today, an agreement was reached with each one of the nations.
"I think that it's important to be inclusive with all of the First Nations that will be impacted by any of the LNG pipeline going through our territory. It speaks volumes that we have one- hundred percent of the first nations signed on." Said Karen Ogen- Toews who is the CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance.
The announcement comes at a time where a challenge funded by the West Coast Environmental Law Association seems to be set on stalling the pipeline project.
Mike Sawyer out of Smithers who is leading the challenge says the project, which has passed a provincial environmental assessment, should have instead undergone a federal review.
"We're focused right now on insuring that we are ready to begin construction once LNG Canada makes it's FID. What we know is that we have secured all the valid permits through the regulatory process." Said Jacquelynn Benson a spokesperson for Coastal GasLink.
Coastal GasLink says they completed important field work over the summer, laid out the foundation for contracts with their prime contractor, and awarded 620- million dollars to First Nations contractors earlier this year.
"When we first began this project our goal was to build more than just relationships, it was to build trusted partnerships. Part of that was ensuring we had continuous dialogue all along, and remaining focused on establishing tailored long- term benefits agreements which each of the individual communities, so that we can meet each of their individual needs." Benson explained.
In addition to the agreements reached, additional funding will be on it's way to the nations assuming a positive final investment decision from LNG Canada.
"There should be some legacy payments going to the nations once the pipeline is in the ground. I think this is a win win win." Ogen- Toews said.
Trans Canada still has agreements to reach with some Hereditary Governance Groups but says they remain optimistic that those deals will be finalized in the near future.