The eyes of much of the national media were on the North Coast last week as members of Lax Kw’alaams Band provided their feedback to Chief and council on a $1.14 billion LNG benefits agreement.
Based on reports and video from the meetings in Lax Kw’alaams and Prince Rupert, Mayor Garry Reece and council have clear direction from the membership to reject the offer. Whether or not that is what they do remains to be seen, but a rejection of the proposal puts the region in a very sticky spot.
Back in December the Metlakatla Band, who share the territory with their Tsimshian brothers and sisters, agreed to a benefits agreement term sheet that outlines the benefits Metlakatla would receive should the project proceed. Much like the offer to Lax Kw’alaams, the benefits are slated to flow into the community over the course of 40 years.
So on one hand you have the Metlakatla Band signing a term sheet that will bring financial benefits and employment for the next four decades while the Lax Kw’alaams adamently oppose the project.
Of course talks of rejecting the offer have many wondering what would happen to the Lelu Island terminal. Some figure the project would be dead in the water, some say there would be no change and MP Nathan Cullen figures it would end up before the courts.
A rejection of this proposal and the associated project would certainly put front and centre the question of whether or not one group has the power to stop a project.
Regardless, many feel the rejection of an accommodation package of this magnitude would certainly throw a significant wrench in the sunny outlook investors have on the region.
And they may not be wrong.
Liquefied natural gas has shone a spotlight on the North Coast for many years, largely in the positive. We will collectively have to wait and see what the Lax Kw’alaams Band decides and what impact that decision has.