Blueberry River signs pipeline agreement

The Blueberry River First Nations have signed an agreement with TransCanada over the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project.

While the specific terms of the agreement remain confidential, it includes access to employment and contracts, and initial and annual payments to Blueberry for the life of the project. 

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"We believe the pipeline project will benefit our members today and for future generations, both financially and in terms of employment for our members," said Chief Marvin Yahey.

"The relationship we have established with TransCanada is just as important as the agreement, and we are confident that the relationship we have built will continue to the benefit of both parties for years to come."

Project President Tony Palmer said the agreement was an “important milestone” for the pipeline.

"We want to ensure we have (First Nations) input on environmental and cultural impacts and that they benefit from the construction and operation of the PRGT pipeline project," Palmer said.

Davis Sheremata, a TransCanada spokesman, said the company received final permits from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission Tuesday, meaning it has full regulatory approval for the construction and operation of the project.

“We engaged with the recognized leadership of First Nations across the PRGT pipeline route at a very early stage of the process and we strongly believe it is the only way to go if you want to build and keep a good relationship,” said Sheremata.

The company has also signed project agreements with ten other First Nations. Two of those, Doig River and Halfway River, are in Northeast B.C.

However, not all First Nations support the measure.

The Luutkudziiwus, a group within the Gitxsan Nation in B.C., filed a legal challenge against the project on Oct. 14.

Blueberry River had put forward a motion for a judicial review of the government’s decision to approve another project that would supply gas to the pipeline, but that was dismissed last August.

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