The Lax Kw’alaams Band could receive more than 1,500 hectares of crown land around Prince Rupert and Port Edward from the provincial government if it agrees to the construction and operation of the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal and Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project.
The land is just one of the benefits being offered according to a Lax Kw’alaams member update obtained by the Northern View and would be granted to the band at various milestones in the projects. A draft map entitled “Lax Kw’alaams Pacific NorthWest LNG Benefits Term Sheet Map 1” created by the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation outlines four points at which crown land would change hands.
Upon signing the benefits agreement, a 40 hectare parcel of land across from the garbage dump could be transferred to the band. If Pacific NorthWest LNG makes a positive final investment decision, Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla could take joint ownership of a 33 hectare parcel of land on Skeena Drive just before Port Edward that extends behind the current community footprint.
The largest potential transfer of land would come upon commencement of construction of the Lelu Island terminal. Should that happen, the Band could be provided with 286 hectares running along the Ridley Island access road, 236 hectares running from Kloiya Bay to the Galloway Rapids bridge and down Skeena Drive, 39 hectares along Skeena Drive leading to Port Edward, 289 hectares of land running from adjacent to Butze Rapids to Miller Bay, 57 hectares from Miller Bay to Galloway Rapids Bridge, 340 hectares across from Butze Rapids and adjacent to Lot 444, three hectares behind Oliver Lake and 299 hectares at the tip of Digby Island as well as a small piece of land adjacent to Dodge Cove. An additional 130 hectares would be subject to land use discussions and would be located between the dump and Highway 16 all the way to the harbour.
Another 172 hectares of land on Digby Island could be made available upon commencement of construction and consent by those currently with an interest in the land.
The map notes that “this does not represent a land offer. It is provided for scoping and discussion purposes on a without prejudice basis”.
In addition to the land, a bulletin from the band outlines $20.18 million to be paid upon approval and signing of the agreement, $2.09 million upon construction of the projects and $5.59 million upon project startup. Annually, the band would receive payments starting at $12.924 million and rising every year before reaching $50,538,351 at year 40. In total, the annual payments would bring approximately $1.014 billion to the band over 40 years.
Other benefits include $6 million for the paving of the Tuck Road and a $2.5 million fisheries compensation fund, $1.75 million for capacity funding, $225,000 annually for scholarships and $18.5 million for a training program over 10 years. In total, the Band puts the value of the total benefits package at 1.149 billion over 40 years.
The update comes with a letter from mayor and council indicating members will be asked to show support for the agreement through a show of hands at community meetings in Lax Kw’alaams on May 4 and 5, in Prince Rupert May 6 and 7 and in Vancouver May 11 and 12. It also lists some of the potential environmental impacts associated with the terminal including adding an additional 350 LNG carriers around the waters of Lax Kw’alaams for the next 30 years.