Coastal GasLink is building 14 construction camps to house workers along the route of its pipeline in northern B.C. (Coastal GasLink photo)

Coastal GasLink makes new request to meet with First Nation pipeline opponents

President writes letter following Premier John Horgan’s comments on law needing to be followed

The president of a company building a natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia is renewing a request to meet with the hereditary clan chiefs of a First Nation who say the project has no authority without their consent.

Coastal GasLink president David Pfeiffer says in a letter Tuesday to Na’moks, who leads one of five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, that the company’s preference is to resolve the dispute over the pipeline through meaningful dialogue.

Na’moks could not immediately be reached for comment but said last week that the chiefs won’t meet with industry representatives, only “decision makers” in the provincial and federal governments and RCMP leadership.

The 670-kilometre pipeline would run from near Chetwynd in northeastern B.C. to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat on the coast.

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations along the pipeline route, but the hereditary clan chiefs say no one is allowed on their 22,000-square-kilometre territory without their consent.

On Monday, Premier John Horgan said the $6.2-billion pipeline is vital to the region’s economic future and will be built despite the Wet’suwet’en chiefs’ objections, adding that the courts have ruled in favour of the project.

“We want everyone to understand that there are agreements from the Peace Country to Kitimat with Indigenous communities that want to see economic activity and prosperity take place,” Horgan said. “All the permits are in place for this project to proceed. This project is proceeding and the rule of law needs to prevail in B.C.”

Pfeiffer says in the letter to Na’moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, that Horgan’s comments reinforce the need to collaborate and work together to solve their issues, in addition to and separate from the hereditary clan chiefs’ conversations with the provincial government.

He suggests Friday as a date to meet and says that although the B.C. Supreme Court has granted the company an injunction to access its work site in the Wet’suwet’en traditional territory, the company would prefer to resolve the differences through dialogue.

Pfeiffer also thanked the chiefs for their support in helping the company winterize its worker accommodation site, which lies down a logging road where supporters of the hereditary chiefs have felled dozens of trees, blocking access.

The RCMP has said a criminal investigation is underway into traps likely to cause bodily harm, after officers say they found piles of tires with jugs of fuel and accelerant inside, as well as rags soaked in fuel, in the area where the trees were felled.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en say in a news release that the one-time access to winterize worker accommodations was granted to avoid damages to Coastal GasLink assets and the surrounding environment, since the work site would not be occupied during an expected cold snap.

The release says the access was offered “in good faith,” but the arrangement in no way constitutes consultation with the company and the group remains steadfast in its opposition to the pipeline.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Alberni Valley, West Coast First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

Kitchen fire sends one to hospital in Port Alberni

Apartment block evacuated after sprinkler system was set off

Qualicum Beach man arrested over racist incident at Tseshaht First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP said the man turned himself in

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read