Comox First Nations opposed to Enbridge pipeline approval

This banner, erected at the Ryan Road/Old Island Highway intersection the morning after the announcement, expressed the opinion of many British Columbians - Terry Farrell
This banner, erected at the Ryan Road/Old Island Highway intersection the morning after the announcement, expressed the opinion of many British Columbians
— image credit: Terry Farrell

The consensus at the last council meeting of the K’ómoks First Nation was that June 17 was a sad day for British Columbians when the contentious Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline met with federal approval.

“We are opposed to projects that can or will have negative effects on the environment of the traditional territories of First Nations throughout B.C.,” KFN councillor Melissa Quocksister said the next day. “We fully support the First Nations who are moving forward with court cases and opposition of Enbridge.”

The company proposes to transport up to 525,000 barrels of oil per day through a twin pipeline system extending 1,177 kilometres from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat for export to California and Asia.

The company has said deliveries could start by late 2018, but Enbridge must first satisfy more than half of the 209 conditions of the National Energy Board before it can begin construction.

The Liberals and NDP both oppose the project. The BC Liberals have laid out five conditions that have yet to be met before it will sanction the pipeline. For one, the Province insists on a bigger slice of financial benefits in exchange for environmental risks. But before this happens, Enbridge needs to strike a deal with First Nations along the route. The Haisla and Coastal First Nations have opposed the pipeline to protect their land and natural resources.

“I think after yesterday, First Nations will be holding on even tighter to their rights to their traditional lands,” Quocksister said.

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan wants resource development that creates jobs in B.C., particularly for aboriginal communities. He says the B.C. Liberals gave up an opportunity to oppose the Enbridge pipeline. But Environment Minister Mary Polak rejected his claim, saying the province gave a clear “no” in its final submission to the federal review panel that last year recommended approval of the project.

“We recognize the benefits that the Northern Gateway project may bring, but they will not be at the expense of our environment,” Polak said.

Comox Valley MLA Don McRae could not be reached for comment by press time.

Vancouver Island North Member of Parliament John Duncan did not return phone calls.

“We call ourselves a democracy, but yesterday was a clear dictatorship,” said Quocksister, noting the lack of consultation when passing bills. “I feel like we’re now under a dictatorship and we don’t have a say in what goes on in our country anymore.”

– with files from Black Press


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