Kitselas chief councillor Judy Gerow says the Kitselas are not jumping the gun with an opinion about a $13 billion oil refinery announced today, proposed to be built on Kitselas traditional territory.
The refinery, which is dependent on Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project, was announced in a press conference today by Black Press owner David Black, who owns newspapers like the Terrace Standard, Kitimat Sentinel and Northern Connector.
Prior to the announcement, Black visited Terrace and met with Kitselas chief councillor Judy Gerow. Gerow said that as the refinery depends on the pipeline, and as the Kitselas independent study on the pipeline is incomplete, it is too soon for the Kitselas to comment about whether or not the Kitselas favour the proposal.
While the refinery is proposed to be built on crown land, Kitselas traditional territorial boundaries encompass crown land south of Terrace and north of Kitimat, said Gerow.
“The proposed (refinery) is between Terrace and Kitimat and we do have territory there,” said Gerow.
“We don’t want to make any kind of statement of endorsement,” said Gerow. “We are still conducting the independent study so I think it would be too soon.”
During a federal environmental review hearing held January in Terrace, the Kitselas First Nation, which was registered as an intervenor at the hearing, announced then it would wait until the completion of its independent study before forming a stance on the pipeline project.
Gerow acknowledged the dependency the refinery has on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline in an interview today, where she talked about her meeting with Black during his visit to Terrace near the end of July this year.
“We just discussed the possibility of this refinery being located on Kitselas traditional territory,” said Gerow.
“I think with any type of project that’s going to bring jobs to this area is exciting,” she said. “But, you have to be careful what the impacts are going to be.”
Gerow said there were various environmental concerns raised during the meeting.
“We did bring up a lot of concerns with things like … salmon spawning streams,” she said.
“We didn’t talk about partnership,” she added, stressing that no talk about money happened during the meeting. “We don’t want to go there now.”
The refinery’s proposed site is located 25 km south of Terrace and 25 km north of Kitimat, The site is 3000 hectares in size.
The Northern Gateway pipeline, if built, would be approximately 1,100 kilometres long and the Kitselas say approximately 10 per cent of the pipeline’s footprint falls within their traditional territory.
The Kitselas territory is also the area where Enbridge proposes to tunnel through Clore and Hoult Mountains.