Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Ltd. has cleared one hurdle in the construction of its proposed pipeline connecting Northeastern B.C. to Lelu Island as the Nisga’a Lisims Government has executed a benefits agreement with the company.
The Nisga’a Nation said the agreement, which was passed on Oct. 29, will allow for approximately 85 kilometres of the proposed pipeline to run through Nisga’a lands and allow approximately 12 kilometres to run through the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park primarily adjacent to the highway. The final right-of-way for the pipeline will be approximately 32 metres wide, while additional lands may be required for possible pipeline expansion, temporary log decking, equipment storage and camps. However, the nation emphasizes that “the rights granted by the Nisga’a Nation are not sales of Nisga’a Lands”.
The Nisga’a say the agreement includes “substantial financial and other benefits that will accrue to the Nisga’a Nation”, including direct financial benefits, further capacity funding, milestone payments, annual right-of-way payments and additional payments “made on the basis of shared future success” for both the company and the Nisga’a. As well as payments, the Nisga’a will receive property tax payments as a result of a property tax agreement signed with the province this month and includes commitments for the company to provide, “exclusive contracting opportunities for right-of-way clearing, camp services, security and medical services on Nisga’a lands”. The Nisga’a will retain ownership of merchantable timber harvested on their land and an “enhanced forest management fund and an environmental studies and monitoring fund” have been established.
The two groups will also work together to determine whether the Nisga’a Nation can establish future natural gas distribution to serve homes in the Nass Valley and gives the Nisga’a Nation the option to secure capacity on the line for an LNG developer who locates on Nisga’a Land.
“The agreement … is a significant demonstration of the strength of the Nisga’a Treaty and its ability to generate substantial benefit to Nisga’a citizens over the life of this project,” said the Nisga’a Lisims government in a statement.
John Dunn, vice-president of Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Ltd., said the company was very pleased to have the agreement in place.
“Negotiations with the Nisga’a have been ongoing for some 18 months and we appreciate their willingness to work with us to reach an outcome that will benefit their people for many years to come. They have been actively involved in all aspects of project discussions including developing route options through their lands and the park, and discussions around the economic benefits of our project,” he said.
“While we don’t discuss details of proposed legislation, we can say that we have a great deal of respect for the Nisga’a people. It has always been the highest priority to negotiate with, and have the support of, every Aboriginal group that will be directly affected by our proposed pipeline. Our philosophy is based on collaboration and consensus that will certainly continue as we move forward and work with the Nisga’a people.”