Fraser Forum

Tsawwassen First Nation members reject proposed on-reserve LNG facility in B.C.

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On Dec. 16, Tsawwassen First Nation members voted on the proposed FortisBC development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility on Tsawwassen reserve lands. Out of the eligible voters, 53 per cent (74 members) voted against and 46 per cent (65 members) voted in favour of the project. With 48 per cent of eligible Tsawwassen First Nation members voting, the result of yesterday’s referendum will cease any further discussion on the proposed LNG concept.

With an unemployment rate that has grown to 9.7 per cent from 2.2 per cent over five years, Tsawwassen First Nation could have utilized the benefits from the project to increase prosperity for its members.

Some of those benefits included:
• More than $223 million in direct transfers to the Tsawwassen members over 40 years.
• More than 1,000 potential jobs on reserve.
• Additional revenue from the project that would be designated for social, economic and infrastructure projects on reserve.

All of which were rejected by the Tsawwassen First Nation members.

For British Columbia, the development of the on-reserve LNG terminal would mean the production of three to five million tonnes of LNG annually. It is estimated that if five LNG plants were built in B.C., the benefits over a 30-year period could amount to total investment of $175 billion, adding $1 trillion to the province’s gross domestic product.

As a recent study has shown, all proposed oil and gas projects in Canada impact at least one First Nation community—and in many cases, multiple communities. As a result, many resource companies are looking to build partnerships with First Nations, and some have successfully done so. For example, Muskowekwan First Nation in Saskatchewan is partnering with Encanto Potash to build the first on-reserve potash facility in Canada; and the Haisla Nation in B.C. has built LNG storage and marine facilities on reserve land.

Although 74 of the more than 360 members of Tsawwassen First Nation have rejected this current on-reserve LNG facility, other First Nations across the country are supporting such projects and recognizing the benefits.


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