Aurora LNG artist's rendering

First Nations receive $364k in funding to assess Aurora LNG

North Coast First Nations received a monetary boost in their quest to evaluate the Aurora LNG project for environmental impacts

North Coast First Nations received a monetary boost in their quest to evaluate the Aurora LNG project for environmental impacts to the area.

On Dec. 9, the federal government announced a $364,560 transfer of funds from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) to the Government of British Columbia to help seven First Nations groups evaluate Aurora’s project.

“[CEAA] administers a Participant Funding Program which assists individuals, non-profit organizations and indigenous groups in participating in federal environmental assessments. The program applies to all projects undergoing a federal environmental assessment,” stated Nicole Vinette, manager of communications and stakeholder engagement at the province’s Environmental Assessment Office last week.

The funds will be used by the First Nations to “review and provide comments on the proponent’s application, the EAO’s draft assessment report and the potential federal environmental assessment conditions,” the CEAA website states.

The Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Kitselas and Kitsumkalum First Nations all receive $54,040 from the government for the process, while Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla receive $67,550, and the Métis Provincial Council of British Columbia receives $13,300.

“In August 2014, the former Minister of the Environment approved the substitution of the federal environmental assessment of the Aurora LNG Project, located at Digby Island in British Columbia, to British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). As such, the EAO is conducting the environmental assessment on behalf of both the federal and provincial governments,” Vinette added.

Similar transfers of money were made to First Nations groups for the government-approved Pacific NorthWest LNG project on Lelu Island in the process leading up to that approval.

“We are pleased with the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office’s acceptance of our Environmental Assessment Certificate Application. We look forward to the public comment period beginning in January, where we will have the opportunity to meet with all of our stakeholders,” stated Andrew Hamilton, general manager for Aurora LNG and Gas at Nexen Energy, the company’s parent company.

The proposed Digby Island project would include a natural gas receiving and LNG production facility with a capacity of up to 24 million tonnes of LNG per year and a marine terminal with surrounding infrastructure and facilities.

– With files from Shannon Lough