TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) project marked a milestone Nov. 6 with the signing of a Benefits Agreement with the Nisga’a Lisims Government that will allow 85 km of the proposed natural gas pipeline to run through Nisga’a Lands. As well, the agreement will allow another 12 km of the pipeline to run through the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park.
“We are very pleased to have concluded a Benefits Agreement with the Nisga’a Lisims Government,” said Dean Patry, President, PRGT. “The agreement is an important milestone for us, and it reflects our commitment to engage with the Nisga’a people in a meaningful way and provide fair compensation for the easements and associated impacts during construction. We strongly believe that ongoing collaboration is the only way to build and keep a positive relationship as we move this project forward.”
The BC provincial government has introduced legislation to modify the park boundaries to allow the pipeline to cross through the Memorial Park. The province and the Nisga’a Nation jointly manage the park, and any alteration to the boundaries required the consent of the Nation. The legislation, if approved, would confirm the removal of 63.5 hectares of land from the park.
The proposed pipeline route would traverse the park for about 12 km, following Highway 113 for most of its length through the park. By following the highway, the proposed route would reduce the amount of land disturbance resulting from construction of the project and reduce the impact on the environment.
The legislation “will assist the Nisga’a Nation in participating in the emerging LNG economy, on terms acceptable to the Nisga’a Nation,” said Mitchell Stevens, President of the Nisga’a Lisims Government. “Allowing the modification of protected land is never easy, but it strikes a balance between respecting our Treaty interests and encouraging economic development for Nisga’a citizens.”
“It is important to us that the Nisga’a people are involved in all aspects of our project, so for the past 18 months we have worked closely with them to find the best route through their land that would have the least impact on the environment, their heritage and their way of life,” noted John Dunn, VP, PRGT, who was involved in the negotiations from the beginning. “At the same time, we wanted to ensure that substantial financial and other benefits accrued to Nisga’a families, their community and future generations. With their help, we have done that. The negotiations have been lengthy but have, in the end, produced an agreement that all can be proud of…one that is collaborative, productive and creates a legacy for the future.”
The amendment will only take effect once regulatory approvals are in place, including PRGT’s Environmental Assessment Certificate (expected to be approved in December) and the BC legislature considers, next spring, and approves a motion to amend the description of the park in the Nisga’a Final Agreement.