A deadline has been set for the First Nations located in the areas along the route of proposed natural gas pipelines to forge a revenue sharing deal with the province by March 31, says Kitselas chief councillor Joe Bevan.
After over a year in the negotiating, the challenge to figure out how much money each First Nation will get from a total of $10 million annual payments allotted per pipeline has seen several deadlines come and go.
Meanwhile, the likelihood of many of the projects going through has diminished as global markets have plummeted for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be produced from the gas delivered by the pipelines.
Originally, the provincial government had involved itself in the negotiations with the First Nations chiefs who have traditional territory along the proposed routes and set a deadline of June 30 of last year to hash out an agreement.
At one time the province had indicated it would impose a deal if one could not be negotiated.
But the province then decided to back out as active negotiator and leave the decision to the chiefs, who in turn aimed to have a deal in place by Dec. 31 of last year.
That deadline then passed with no deal and a group of chiefs met in early February in Vancouver to continue talks.
“The province has provided technical information to First Nations, but the province has not been involved in the First Nations’ decision-making process,” said a statement from the aboriginal relations and reconciliation ministry.
Up to 32 First Nations stand to benefit from the $10 million per year per pipeline.
Bevan said the last meeting in Vancouver saw some progress made but that a final deal has not materialized. “It’s a complex situation,” said Bevan.
A key to the negotiation is figuring out a formula that would allot a percentage of the $10 million to band councils along the path of the pipelines in greater or lessor amounts based on distance traversed by the pipeline or other factors such an environmental footprint. Another suggestion was to divide the money up equally.
Each of the proposed pipelines – Coastal GasLink to Kitimat for the planned LNG Canada liquefied natural gas plant, Prince Rupert Gas Transmission to the Lelu Island/Port Edward area for the planned Pacific NorthWest LNG plant and the Westcoast Connector to another planned LNG plant at Prince Rupert – originate in the northeast of the province and come west through huge expanses of First Nations traditional territory.
The Pacific Trails Pipeline impact benefits agreement for the planned Kitimat LNG plant at Kitimat was figured out separately back in 2013.
First Nations have also been negotiating separate agreements directly with pipeline companies.