The Haisla Nation, the federal government and the province of British Columbia have signed an agreement that opens the way for liquified natural gas development on Haisla territory on Douglas Channel.
The federal government also announced new regulations under the the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act (FNCIDA). The regulations are necessary because First Nations are still governed by provisions of the century old Indian Act and reserve land is outside of provincial jurisdiction.
The agreement was announced at a news conference in Vancouver today, January 22, 2013. At this point it mainly concerns the Kitimat LNG project (also known as KM LNG)
A news release from the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development says: “FNCIDA was a First Nations-led initiative that allows the government to work with First Nations and provincial regulatory authorities to create regulations for complex commercial and industrial development projects on reserve.”
The tripartite agreement with the Government of Canada, Government of British Columbia and Haisla Nation “ensures administrative, monitoring and compliance activities for the LNG facility are performed and enforced by provincial officials.”
The news release also quotes Haisla Chief Counsellor Ellis Ross as saying: “Kitimat LNG offers new, important and sustainable economic opportunities which the Haisla people are eager to embrace. We have seen new jobs, business opportunities, and skills training come to our people since KM LNG signed its agreement with us, and we know that the agreement signed today with Canada and BC is a milestone in making the project a reality. On behalf of the 1,700 Haisla people, I thank both governments for their commitment to this important agreement and the better future it is bringing our people.”
The federal news release goes on to quote BC Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett as saying: “The BC Government is working with industry and First Nations to foster economic growth through the expansion of our province’s natural gas sector. I would like to thank the Government of Canada and the Haisla Nation for working with us to move the Kitimat LNG facility another step forward.”
The federal release also quotes executives from both major companies involved in the Kitimat LNG project, Apache and Chevron. Chevron recently took over operating control of the project from Apache when that company had difficulty finding customers in Asia for the LNG.
The Government of Canada, Government of BC and the Haisla Nation have shown exceptional leadership and support towards BC’s new LNG industry” said Tim Wall, President of Apache Canada. “This regulatory agreement builds on the many other agreements with the Haisla that has led to jobs, training, education and economic development in Kitimaat Village.”
“I want to congratulate the Haisla First Nation, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia, and Apache Canada for their shared leadership in finalizing the regulations governing the Kitimat LNG facility site,” said Jeff Lehrmann, president, Chevron Canada Limited. “We look forward to working with the Haisla First Nation, both governments, other First Nations and local communities to realize the project’s long-term economic potential.”
In remarks prepared for the meeting Canada’s Aboriginal Affairs minister John Duncan was quoted as saying
The proposed project will provide Canada’s energy producers with a doorway to overseas markets, in addition to creating jobs and economic development opportunities not just for the Haisla First Nation, but the entire northwest region of British Columbia.
That’s good news for members of the Haisla Nation, good news for British Columbia, and good news for all Canadians.
These regulations are passed under the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act, known as FNCIDA, which allows the federal government to develop regulations for complex commercial and industrial development projects on reserve in partnership with First Nations and Provincial governments.
For First Nations, FNCIDA can remove the barriers they face in pursuit of economic development opportunities, while providing the certainty investors require, and assuring the community that the necessary oversight measures are in place.
Together with the Province of British Columbia and the Haisla Nation, the Government of Canada has also signed an agreement which ensures administrative, monitoring and compliance activities for the facility are performed and enforced by provincial officials who have the necessary experience and expertise.
As a result, the regulatory pieces are now in place for project to proceed.
To protect the environment as it relates to natural gas production, together with the Province of British Columbia we have completed an environmental assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. With our partners, we will ensure that the LNG plant is designed and built to industrial safety standards and that the operation is properly regulated