Saulteau First Nations and the B.C. government have reached a new agreement on the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project to help ensure that the Saulteau community can participate in and benefit from B.C.'s LNG opportunity.
Pipeline benefits agreements with First Nations are part of the B.C. government's comprehensive plan to partner with First Nations on LNG opportunities, which also includes increasing First Nations' access to skills training and environmental stewardship projects.
As part of the agreement, Saulteau First Nations will receive approximately $3.9 million in funding as construction related milestones are reached. In addition, Saulteau and other First Nations along the natural gas pipeline route will share $10 million per year in ongoing benefits once the pipeline is in service.
"This agreement is part of a growing recognition of our long-held treaty rights," Saulteau Chief Nathan Parenteau said.
"It has the potential to help our community achieve its goals, and it represents another step towards a more balanced and respectful relationship between the Province and our Nation. Everyone must respect our treaty rights and work with us to find solutions."
The 670-kilometre pipeline would bring gas from an the Groundbirch area to the proposed LNG Canada project near Kitimat for export to Asian markets.
TransCanada Corporation received the last of the permits it needed from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission to build and operate the Coastal GasLink pipeline in May.
The government says partnering with Saulteau First Nations is part of its efforts to build meaningful relationships and partnerships with First Nations. In 2015, the government and Saulteau signed a New Relationship and Reconciliation Agreement which will help to protect areas of traditional importance and guide natural resource development in the province's Northeast.
"This is another example of how responsible resource development can coexist with treaty rights to build a better economic and sustainable future in First Nations communities and the province as a whole," John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, said.
The province says it has reached 62 pipeline benefits agreements with 29 First Nations for four proposed natural gas pipelines, including Prince Rupert Gas Transmission, Coastal GasLink, Pacific Trail Pipeline, and the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission natural gas pipeline project.
Saulteau, located 100 kilometres southwest of Fort St. John near Chetwynd, is the largest Treaty 8 First Nation with 1,000 members, according to the province.