LEADERS of the Tahltan Nation signed a shared decision-making agreement with the B.C. government today to prepare for a resource development boom produced by extension of the BC Hydro electricity grid to the northwest corner of B.C.
The Northwest Transmission Line reaching north from Terrace and then up along Highway 37 North will bring stable power to several mineral developments and allow hydro electricity producers to sell power into the B.C. Hydro grid.
Tahltan Central Council president Annita McPhee said her administration is now dealing with 250 exploration applications per year, across a mineral-rich territory half the size of Washington state.
A second agreement will also see the province provide the Tahltan with $2.5 million a year through the sharing tax revenues from the Forrest Kerr run of river project being built by energy giant AltaGas.
“We knew that transmission line was going to be built to access our resources in our territory, and our people said it’s not enough to sign on with BC Hydro,” McPhee said. “We need to work with government, we need to set up standards to control the amount of development that’s coming through our territory.”
Last December, a $20 million deal was reached between Shell Canada, the B.C. government and the Tahltan to buy back Shell’s coalbed gas leases in the Klappan region, headwaters of the Nass, Skeena and Stikine Rivers. McPhee said the new agreement will allow local control as well as revenue sharing for mining and other projects.
In addition, the province is providing the Tahltan with $1.2 million over three years to cover costs of the decision-making agreement and to develop other hydro and wind energy in the region.
With files from Tom Fletcher, Black Press.