Lax Kw’alaams vote ‘Yes’ to talks

Lax Kw'alaams Band members voted in favour of continuing talks with the province and Pacific NorthWest LNG on proposed Lelu Island facility.

Mavis and Leona Kelly were two of 812 Lax Kw’alaams voters that participated in the poll asking members if they would like council to continue engaging in talks with Pacific NorthWest LNG and the province.

After a week-long voting period, the Lax Kw’alaams Band membership has voted for its elected mayor and council to continue engaging in talks with the province and Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG in regards to Pacific NorthWest’s proposed LNG export facility on Lelu Island.

With 532 of 812 votes in favour of the ongoing talks, 65.5 per cent of voters demonstrated their favourable opinion of continued dialogue when all the votes were tallied Thursday.

“This is another step in a process that could lead to the Petronas project becoming a reality. We will have meetings with the appropriate parties – [consortium leader] Petronas, the province and the federal government – to see what the next steps are for this proposed project. I appreciate the views and concerns of everyone and take them very seriously. We have not moved from our position about the environment, which is a very important component,” said Lax Kw’alaams Mayor John Helin, in a press release issued by the province Thursday.

Members were posed the question if they would be interested in continued talks with industry and government officials if the environmental concerns were properly mitigated.

Members were given listed pros and cons of LNG projects, including Pacific NorthWest,  and more details in a voting package. An independent review and its findings were also distributed to members, along with opportunities to attend at least four community meetings conducted by Lax Kw’alaams council during the summer, where the PNW proposal, environmental protection mitigation plans and opportunities for Band members were reviewed.

Polling stations were open on Aug. 22, 23 and 24 at the Lax Kw’alaams Fire Hall and at the Lax Kw’alaams Prince Rupert office on First Avenue East.

Long distance Band members were mailed voting packages.

“The Government of British Columbia congratulates the Lax Kw’alaams Band for voting in support of continuing their discussions with us. Pacific NorthWest LNG will create jobs and new economic opportunities for members of the Lax Kw’alaams and, collectively, we will ensure the export facility upholds the highest standards environmental protection,” said Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development.

The PNW project is currently under federal review by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and is scheduled to be presented before Cabinet early of fall 2016.

Petronas is expected to review the finalized version of the project after federal review and if the project and its environmental mitigation measures are accepted by the Government of Canada, Petronas will prepare the project to be presented to shareholders for a Final Investment Decision.

The timeline of that review is currently not known.