Three major projects have taken centre stage in B.C.: the Coastal GasLink pipeline project (top), the Trans Mountain expansion project (left) and the Site C dam (right). (Black Press Media files)

B.C. VIEWS: The glacial pace of resource development

As delays continue, costs climb and confusion reigns

There is nothing simple about resource extraction in B.C.

At times it’s hard to tell what’s messier – the process or the politics.

Three major projects are currently staggering toward a future that will: pave a way to a greener economy, hasten the world’s descent into climate catastrophe, bolster the economic fortunes of indigenous communities, tighten the yoke of colonization, fund our schools and hospitals for generations, or feed the revenue pursuits of corporate boardrooms.

If British Columbians are confused, it is not surprising.

Last week the RCMP moved in to enforce a court injunction at one of the more complicated projects – construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Smithers.

For more than a year, protesters have blocked construction of the pipeline because the company had failed to gain permission from the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, whose traditional and unceded land the pipeline will cross.

The $6.6-billion project is a critical step in the construction of a $40-billion liquified natural gas export terminal at Kitimat. It has the support of Premier John Horgan and his NDP government, and clearance by the B.C. Supreme Court.

More importantly, it has the support of 20 First Nations, including five of six elected councils from the Wet’suwet’en.

They see the project as a way to lift their communities out of poverty.

“For the communities and councils, it means a stable and long-term source of revenues that will help them work on closing the social-economic gap that keeps people so far behind others in Canada,” First Nations LNG Alliance CEO Karen Ogen-Toews, a former elected chief councillor of the Wet’suwet’en, told the Northern Sentinel News in 2018.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs see the conflict as a defining moment in a fight to recognize the long unsettled claims to indigenous rights and title in B.C.

Included in that call is the obligation described by the Canadian Supreme Court for the informed consent of Indigenous peoples before projects proceed.

However, the extent of those obligations were defined just days earlier by a unanimous decision by the Federal Court of Appeal about another contentious pipeline.

Last Monday, the court concluded the federal government had done its duty in negotiating with First Nations along the Trans Mountain Pipeline route after failing to do so earlier.

While the court admitted consent was not unanimous, it said, “While the parties challenging the cabinet’s decision are fully entitled to oppose the project, reconciliation and the duty to consult do not provide them with a veto over projects such as this one.”

It was the second court defeat for TransMountain opponents in two weeks. Earlier, the Supreme Court squashed B.C.’s claim it should be allowed to regulate what flows through the pipelines.

Meanwhile, the massive Site C hydroelectric dam continues to draw ire.

The project, aimed at supplying our electrical needs in a post-fossil fuel environment, was criticized in a United Nations report because it failed to consult Indigenous groups. (Ironically, the report was later criticized by Indigenous groups because its authors failed to consult them.)

Despite the protests, delays and court challenges, work is proceeding on all three of these projects.

But not without cost. On Friday, Trans Mountain said the cost to build its pipeline had climbed to $12.6 billion from $7.4 billion.

Against this backdrop of delay and obfuscation, the mountains of coal piled at the Robert Banks terminal near Tsawwassen await export to Asian markets. Next door tower the shipping containers that arrive from those Asian ports, filled with the disposable products our society insatiably demands – most produced in coal-fired factories.

Greg Knill is a columnist and former Black Press editor. Email him at greg.knill@blackpress.ca

BC Views

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs call for end of police patrols

Temporary closure of field office not enough to meet demands

Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal from pipeline construction area

B.C. Deputy Commissioner clarifies terms of agreement following minister’s statements

Stop checks, searches of Wet’suwet’en pipeline opposers unlawful: Watchdog

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs file complaint

Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

“Protesters get one side of the story and they stand up with their fists in the air.”

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

UPDATE: Two missing scout leaders found near Sooke after swollen creek traps troop

Third leader and scouts located, prior to search for two leaders who’d gone for help

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Most Read