A comment by the lead proponent of an ambitious plan to bring a massive petrochemical complex to Prince George is raising alarm bells for the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation.
In an interview aired on BNN Bloomberg, West Coast Olefins Ltd. CEO Ken James said the "local community and the local First Nations are very supportive of this."
It prompted the LTFN to issue a statement this week stressing that it has not come out favour the projects proposed by WCOL.
"Although we have had very preliminary discussions with WCOL, Lheidli T’enneh wishes to clarify that it does not support either of WCOL’s proposed projects at this time," LTFN said in reference to an ethylene plant and a natural gas recovery system for which the company is currently seeking regulatory approval.
So far, LTFN Dayi (Chief) Clay Pountney has made only one public statement on the project, and that was included in a press release issued when WCOL first announced its in intention in July to pursue the $5.6-billion project on the BCR Industrial Site.
Pountney said LTFN "looks forward to potentially partnering with West Coast Olefins to ensure that if the project is approved (it) will provide significant economic benefits to Lheidli T'enneh and our members, and is designed and built in a way that is aligned with our values."
In an emailed response, James said WCOL will work to address LTFN's concerns.
"We strongly believe in the economic and environmental merits of the project and hope that we can gain public support before making firm commitments to proceed with the project in the Prince George community," he added.
WCOL is in the process of seeking approval from the province's Environmental Assessment Office to build an ethylene plant on a 120-hectare (300-acre) property in the BCR.
A preliminary project description was posted on the EAO website in September, sparking a 180-day review although the period can be extended if there is a need for more information or the proponent asks for one.
On Tuesday, the EAO posted a letter outlining the formal scope, procedures and methods for the review. Steps will in include a public consultation period as well as a review by a working group, the EAO and the LTFN.
WCOL also wants to build a natural gas recovery system, consisting of an extraction plant adjacent to the Enbridge's West Coast natural gas pipeline and connected to a separation plant at the BCR, 10 kilometres away. That is to be subject to a review by the Oil and Gas Commission.
A lawsuit filed by LTFN against Enbridge following the October 2018 pipeline explosion and fire at Shelley remains before the court.