After a rough patch, Lake Babine Nation (LBN) is back at the negotiating table with the provincial government for a reconciliation agreement and will continue supporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects.
Last month, LBN Chief Wilf Adam told Lakes District News he was considering withdrawing his support for LNG projects after a proposed 25-year agreement with the province fell through. Chief Adam said he was “very disappointed” after a meeting with provincial government representatives in December.
The province had been collaborating with LBN on a new approach to reconciliation that would be implemented over a 25-year span. The proposed agreement, which was expected to be finalized in December, set out incremental steps designed to address Aboriginal rights and title, community well-being, and build trust and accountability over time.
Chief Adam said LBN did not agree with some of the terms of the agreement, especially the ones related to forestry.
“What they put on the table is not enough; it’s less than what they are offering elsewhere and it will not work for LBN at all,” Chief Adam said in December. “We’ll give negotiations one more shot; if that doesn’t work, then everything is off the table.”
Chief Adam said talks will now resume after he had a “very good meeting” last week with John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. He also plans to meet with the B.C. premier’s office within the next two weeks to continue discussions.
However, when asked if the 25-year reconciliation agreement with the province was still a possibility, Chief Adam stated, “It’s still possible, but due to the [upcoming provincial] election, it will take a longer time.”
“We will continue with the LNG agreement and watch how it unfolds on the coast, and await the final investment decisions,” said Chief Adam, referring to the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Line (PRGT).
Lake Babine Nation signed a pipeline benefits agreement with the province and entered a project agreement with TransCanada for the PRGT in 2015. The agreements provided immediate benefits on signing and would provide annual legacy payments for the duration of the commercial operation of the pipeline. The total amount that LBN would receive from the LNG agreements would add up to approximately $100 million over 40 years.
The PRGT is a proposed 900-km pipeline that would deliver natural gas from a point near the District of Hudson’s Hope, B.C, to the Pacific NorthWest LNG facility within the District of Port Edward on Lelu Island.