More First Nations recognize benefits of LNG plan in British Columbia
Energy company TransCanada announced yesterday that it finalized agreements, in support of its Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline project, with two more First Nations in British Columbia—West Moberly First Nation and Nadleh Whut'en First Nation. This brings the total count of First Nations supporting the Coastal GasLink LNG project to 11.
The project proposes to construct and operate a 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline to the proposed LNG Canada export facility near Kitimat, B.C.
Research has shown that there are more than 25 First Nations communities that may be impacted by the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and with 11 already signing on to project agreements, TransCanada is steadily gaining the support of B.C. First Nations for the LNG project.
In addition to potential financial agreements between TransCanada and First Nations, potential benefits include access to more than 2,000 construction jobs, local contracting opportunities for aboriginal businesses, skills training opportunities, and additional infrastructure and capital investment in and near First Nations communities in Northern B.C. For example, the Coastal GasLink project has already invested more than $41 million in Northern B.C. and expects to invest 32 per cent of the $4.8 billion capital project in B.C.
Further, the benefits of this project could help bring prosperity to many First Nations communities in Northern B.C. For example, our research shows that the average unemployment rate of the communities impacted by the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline is over 31 per cent. West Moberly First Nation, for example, is a community of only 290 members but has an unemployment rate above 22 per cent. Access to skills training and job opportunities may help reduce the staggering unemployment rates in communities like West Moberly First Nation located along the pipeline route.
For West Moberly First Nation the project not only brings economic benefits but also addresses cultural and environmental concerns. Chief Roland Willson said yesterday that the West Moberly First Nation “worked closely with the Coastal GasLink team to ensure our culture, the environment, safety and economic benefits are considered."
The signing of these two project agreements, is a good news story for B.C. The agreements provide financial support and job opportunities to First Nations communities, and the B.C. government estimates that the benefits of LNG over a 30-year period could amount to total investment of $175 billion, add $1 trillion to the province’s gross domestic product, and lead to the establishment of 23,800 permanent direct and indirect jobs for operations. These are benefits that all British Columbians will enjoy.
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