First Nations in B.C. negotiating to buy percentage of Coastal GasLink pipeline - APTN NewsAPTN News

First Nations in B.C. negotiating to buy percentage of Coastal GasLink pipeline

Laurie Hamelin
APTN News

First Nations in British Columbia are vying for a percentage of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline that will cost billions of dollars.

Part of the pipeline is up for sale.

Dan George, an elected chief in Burns Lake First Nation, one of six First Nations in Wet’suwet’en territory, has been in Vancouver discussing business.

George said he wants to buy into the pipeline.

In 2014, he signed a benefit agreement with Coastal Gaslink but says he hopes to do more for his community’s future.

Now he’s working towards equity ownership of the pipeline with all other First Nations along the proposed route.

“Being equity owners creates a lot more wealth for us because we’ll have a bigger piece of the pie,” George said. “And we won’t need any money from Ottawa anymore, we can run our own businesses by ourselves, under our own conditions, so I think it is going to help a lot of First Nations get out of poverty in the north because opportunities are few and far between.”

The Coastal Gaslink pipeline project will push natural gas from Dawson Creek, B.C., 670 kilometres to Kitimat on the coast where it will be liquefied and shipped to markets in Asia.

TransCanada, the company building the pipeline, presented the First Nations with the opportunity to purchase a 75 per cent stake in the line.

The cost is approximately $6 billion.

“It’s going to be ongoing for a while to come because it’s a huge submission and it’s a lot of money that we need to raise,” said George.

George told APTN News that Jason Kenney’s win in Alberta comes at a crucial time for Canada’s oil and gas business.

“I think it will be a good thing for all people of Canada to be on the world stage instead of just giving all our resources to the U.S. for half the price,” George said.

But the Coast Gaslink pipeline project faces stiff opposition from Wet’suwet’en Nations’ highest hereditary Chiefs, despite approval from al 20 elected band councils along the route.

The traditional leaders don’t want the pipeline and say they have jurisdiction – not elected leadership.

George said he isn’t worried – his members want the pipeline so he’s focussed on making sure the project goes through.

“As elected Chief I follow what my band members tell me what they want me to do,” he said.

“So we had a vote on the LNG and they all voted for it so I do what my members tell me and Hereditary Chiefs have to do the same thing.”

lhamelin@aptn.ca

@laurie_hamelin

 

 

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