The narrow media focus on a pipeline protest camp in northwest B.C. obscures the larger picture of broad support and nearly $1 billion in economic benefits that have already flowed from Canada’s first large-scale liquefied natural gas project, LNG Canada’s CEO says.
Speaking to the annual B.C. Natural Resource Forum in Prince George, Andy Calitz vowed that the project will stick to its five-year construction schedule that began last fall.
“It is difficult for me to fathom how there could be such a strong show of support for one Indigenous group that opposes the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and by association, LNG, and so little attention to all of the support the project has from first nations communities, elected and hereditary chiefs – and the communities across B.C.’s North and in the Lower Mainland that want these projects to succeed,” Calitz said.
By the end of 2018, LNG Canada had approved more than $530 million in contracts and subcontracts to area businesses across the province, including first nations businesses.
“The number jumps to $937 million when we add in amounts for contracts in businesses in other parts of the Canada,” Calitz said. “It is just the beginning. We still have years of construction ahead of us.”
He expressed frustration with the attention focused on a dissident group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their outside supporters, which included a wave of protests staged simultaneously across North America and extending to Europe.
Little mention is made of the Indigenous communities that support the export facility at Kitimat, the Haisla, Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Kitselas and Kitsumkalum First Nations, he said.
The list of communities who have signed agreements for the pipeline spans the province, including the Blueberry River, McLeod Lake, West Moberly and Doig First Nations in the northeast.
Along the pipeline route from the shale gas fields around Dawson Creek to Douglas Channel at Kitimat, impact and benefit agreements have also been signed with elected councils of the Cheslatta Carrier, Halfway River, Lheidli-T’enneh, Nadleh Whuten, Nak’azdli Whut’en, Nee Tahi Buhn, Saik’uz, Salteau, Skin Tyee, Stellat’en, Wet’suwet’en, Witset and Yeekooche First Nations.
“There is far too much at stake for LNG Canada not to defend our project,” Calitz said. “Not to stand up for first nations and the more than 15,000 members they represent; not to stand up for the northern communities, and municipal, provincial and federal governments that have stood up for our project in the past.”