Treaty 8 First Nations sign deals on pipeline projects

Both the Coastal GasLink and Prince Rupert Gas Transmission projects proposed by TransCanada run through traditional Treaty 8 territory.

Two Treaty 8 First Nations have signed project agreements with the province and TransCanada Corporation over construction of two proposed pipelines for northeast BC.

Both the province and TransCanada announced Monday deals had been struck with Doig River and Halfway River First Nations on both the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) and Coastal GasLink pipelines. The deal will see payments flow to the bands if construction of the pipelines start and become operational.

In the deal reached with with the province, Doig River will see a total of $1.29 million in payments if three construction milestones for the PRGT pipeline are reached — $168,000 upon the agreement coming into effect, $560,000 when construction begins, and $560,000 once the pipeline is operating — according to the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Communications.

Halfway River will see a total of $2 million as milestones are reached, receiving $336,000, $840,000, and $840,000 respectively, the ministry said.

As well, the province will give Doig River First Nation $1.35 million and Halfway River $2.4 million as construction milestones for the Coastal GasLink project are reached. Doig River will receive $175,500 upon the agreement coming into effect, $585,000 when construction begins, and $585,000 once the pipeline is operating. Halfway River will receive $406,000 upon the agreement coming into effect, $1.02 million when construction begins, and $1.02 million once the pipeline is operating.

Both nations will also receive a share of $10 million in annual provincial payments to First Nations that sign agreements along the route of the pipelines. They will also have access to a $30 million shared pot for skills training.

“These agreements with the Halfway River and Doig River First Nations are an important step towards sharing the prosperity that comes with natural gas development,” said Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad in a release.

Chief Norman Davis of Doig River said the agreements will open up economic development opportunities within the First Nation.

“Development can’t happen at the expense of the environment, though, which is why we look forward to further work with the province on environmental stewardship opportunities,” he said.

Though the agreements have been signed, making the two First Nations eligible for the one-time signing payment, the transfer of that payment and future project payments won’t come into effect until the groups signal to the province that they want their agreements to come into effect, a provincial spokesman said.

TransCanada has not released specifics of their agreements with the bands, but according to media reports, has said it will provide annual payments and other benefits over the life of the pipeline. It also announced it has reached a similar project agreement with Yekooche First Nation near Fort St. James.

The Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project will ship natural gas from the Hudson’s Hope area to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG plant at Lelu Island near Prince Rupert. The Coastal GasLink project will ship natural gas near Dawson Creek to a proposed LNG plant near Kitimat.