Here is a look at the Coastal GasLink pipeline project and its history:
The project: B.C. Premier John Horgan announced provincial support for the project on Oct. 2, 2018. He said LNG Canada’s decision to build a $40-billion liquefied natural gas plant in Kitimat was similar to the moon landing for the province. To get natural gas to the export plant, Coastal GasLink Ltd. is building a 670-kilometre pipeline from the Dawson Creek area in northern B.C. at an estimated cost of $6.6 billion. At the peak point of construction, the plant and the pipeline will employ about 10,000 people. About 900 workers will be needed at the plant during the first phase of its operations.
The route: Planning for the route included the establishment of a “conceptual corridor” through B.C. in 2012 that the company said included consultations with First Nations, local governments and landowners. The final route approved by the BC Oil and Gas Commission runs southwest from outside Dawson Creek before heading west near Vanderhoof then to Kitimat.
First Nations: The dispute has highlighted a debate over whether hereditary chiefs should have more power under Canadian law. The Indian Act established band councils, made up of elected chiefs and councillors, who have authority over reserve lands. Hereditary chiefs are part of a traditional form of Indigenous governance that legal experts say the courts have grappled with how to recognize.
Indigenous Support: The pipeline has support from 20 elected band councils along the route. All of them have signed benefit agreements with Coastal GasLink.
Indigenous Opposition: Several Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say the pipeline cannot proceed without their consent. The chiefs say they have authority over the broader 22,000 square kilometres of traditional territory that the pipeline would partially cross, while the elected band councils only administer smaller reserves.
COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic limits work on the project. In a project update Friday, the company says one-quarter of construction is complete and long-term impacts to the overall schedule continue to be assessed.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021.
The Canadian Press