First Nations get port expansion bucks

TWO LOCAL Tsimshian First Nations are to receive payments tied to the planned expansion of the Prince Rupert Port Authority's container port.

  • Mar. 6, 2011 1:00 p.m.

TWO LOCAL Tsimshian First Nations are to receive payments tied to the planned expansion of the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s container port.

The payments to Kitselas and Kitsumkalum recognize their common property interests within the Tsimshian First Nations.

Kitselas Chief Councillor Glenn Bennett said the port expansion deal is worth $1.9 million to the Kitselas and was negotiated with the port corporation and with the federal government.

The port of Prince Rupert is undergoing an expansion …. and they have to consult and accommodate all the First Nations that are going to be impacted by this project,” said Bennett.

Negotiations are ongoing with Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla and Kitkatla, all of whom are First Nations located on the north coast.

The amount of the Kitsumkalum deal isn’t yet known.

The Kitselas and Kitsumkalum deals are awaiting final sign off from federal officials.

These negotiations have been going on for several years and follow similar ones which took place leading up to the $170 million first phase of the container port opening in 2007.

Coastal Tsimshian First Nations went so far as to file lawsuits, saying the federal government failed to consult with them during that time period.

Talks have centered around employment and business opportunities, environmental protection and archaeological protection.

The container port has seen steady growth since it opened.

Its $170 million cost was financed with $60 million from New Jersey-based Maher Terminals, the container port’s operator, $30 million each from the federal and provincial governments, $25 million for CN for track work and $25 million from the authority itself.

The first phase has a capacity of 500,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) while the second phase is designed to increase capacity to 2 million TEUs.

The container port is considered a vital part of the efforts by the federal and provincial governments to increase trade with Asia.