Premier John Horgan (right) cutting the cake at a celebration with LNG Canada and Haisla Nation in Kitimat earlier this year. (John Horgan Facebook photo)

Haisla yet to sign LNG benefits deals with the province

Other First Nations already receiving cash payments

The Haisla Nation still hasn’t signed economic benefits agreements with the provincial government for the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat or for the pipeline which will feed the facility with natural gas.

Other First Nations in northwest B.C. are already starting to see the monetary benefits from their agreements with the province, like the Kitselas First Nation east of Terrace.

The Kitselas will receive double benefits, from the plant in Kitimat and from the 670km Coastal GasLink pipeline which will stretch from northeastern B.C. to Kitimat. The First Nation signed a LNG facility benefits deal last year and a pipeline deal in 2014.

Despite the lack of provincial benefits agreements, the Haisla do have a benefits agreement with LNG Canada and a solid business relationship with it.

The joint venture Haisla-Ledcor company, for example, won the contract to clear the site for LNG Canada’s plant and the Haisla have leased an apartment building called the Haisla Centre overlooking lower Kitimat to LNG Canada for 10 years.

“LNG Canada has the full support of Haisla Nation who will benefit from the project, but we do not discuss the specifics of our commercial arrangements,” said LNG Canada official Susannah Pierce.

Still, it was just early this fall that the Haisla became the last of 20 First Nations along the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline route to sign a benefits agreement with Coastal GasLink, a TransCanada subsidiary.

Both the Haisla and the province say negotiations for agreements tied to LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink are continuing.

Haisla Nation Council chief councillor Crystal Smith says the goal is to recognize “the significance and impacts that come from the liquefied natural gas industry.”

She said an agreement will cover both the LNG Canada site and the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

“We’ve, to date, signed agreements directly with TransCanada regarding the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and with LNG Canada itself. We look forward to finalizing our work with the provincial government in the coming months,” Smith added.

While the Haisla don’t have a deal with the province for LNG Canada, it is not alone in not having a deal regarding Coastal GasLink. Four other First Nations are also lacking a deal with the province.

The 15 First Nations who have signed a pipeline deal are eligible for lump sums in return so the same might be expected for the Haisla and the other four First Nations.

Those lump sums are due based on construction progress of the Coastal GasLink pipeline that should take place in 2020 when contractors begin placing pipe into the ground and further lump sums when the line goes into service.

There’s an added incentive for the Haisla and the others to sign — the province has committed $10 million a year to be shared among signatory First Nations along the pipeline once it’s in operation.

“Haisla and other First Nations that have not signed pipeline benefit agreements remain eligible for their portion of the ongoing benefits if they sign [agreements],” indicated the province in response to a query as to the status of ongoing talks.

The Kitsumkalum First Nation near Terrace also has yet to sign any kind of LNG benefits deal with the province based on its territorial interests around Terrace and its marine interests reaching down the Skeena River toward Prince Rupert and area.

The province says it is continuing discussions with the Kitsumkalum.

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