Pipeline company seeks route through provincial park

The natural gas pipeline would parallel highway through Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park in northwestern BC

A pipeline company aiming to transport natural gas to a proposed LNG facility in Prince Rupert has submitted an application to go through the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park in the Nass Valley.

The Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project is owned by TransCanada and would pump natural gas approximately 900 kilometres from northeastern B.C. to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG facility on Lelu island just outside of Prince Rupert.

TransCanada wants to clear a 50-metre wide right-of-way through a 14-kilometre stretch of the park west of New Aiyansh with most of the right-of-way paralleling Hwy113, the Nisga’a Highway.

The lava beds which make up a majority of the park were created approximately 250 years ago when a volcanic eruption spilled into the valley, covering two villages and killing approximately 2,000 people.

The area was registered as a Class A provincial park in 1992 and is now managed in partnership with between the Nisga’a Lisims Government and BC Parks.

In its application for a park boundary adjustment, TransCanada says the 48-inch diameter pipeline will be buried and that there will be no above ground structures such as compressor stations.

After the pipeline is installed, the legal right-of-way will be reduced to 32 metres, with approximately 10 metres of that maintained. “Natural revegetation will be encouraged,” reads the proposal.

Nisga’a Lisims officials have so far declined to comment on the plan.

A summary of the application filed by TransCanada states it studied various alternative routes through the Nisga’a traditional and treaty territory before deciding on the Nisga’a park route.

“The routes that avoided the park were deemed most challenging and removed from consideration early in the process,” says the application summary about alternatives.

Two options were looked at for the park, one which would have skirted the southern boundaries, but the pipeline company decided to follow the Nisga’a Highway instead to avoid waterways and culturally significant sites.

The park boundary adjustment application includes a series of open houses beginning in Terrace on June 16.

TransCanada estimates that there will be 110 person years of employment to Nisga’a people during a three-year construction period of the project, with construction of the Nisga’a Memorial park right-of-way pegged for summer and fall of 2017 and predicted to take four months.

Provincial legislation passed in March, Bill 4, allows companies to do assessment work within provincial park boundaries to be used for potential park boundary adjustments applications.

After the public consultation and reporting stage the boundary adjustment then goes to the provincial cabinet where an amendment to the parks legislation is granted or denied.

TransCanada is still working on its plans for the remainder of the pipeline routing out of the Nisga’a territory. Their most recent map shows underwater routing from the coast down to the proposed Lelu island facility. However, other routes, including one that would run north of the Nass Valley and enter the water at Kitsault instead, are still being looked at.