Bill 8, related to amendments to Protected Areas of British Columbia turned some of its focus on the land of the Nisga'a Nation this past week, as Skeena MLA Robin Austin asked a number of questions of Environment Minister May Polak.
With the Skeena MLA seeking clarification on a view items regarding recent announcements over the proposed natural gas pipeline through the Memorial Lava Bed in the Nass.
The Nisga'a recently concluded two agreements on that particular proposal, one with Trans Canada pipelines which we outlined on October 31st and the other with the provincial government which provides a number of benefits to the Nisga'a nation regarding energy industry initiatives through their territory.
The provincial agreement was signed on November 20th, some background on that aspect of the discussion can be found below:
CBC-- Nisga'a Nation signs LNG pipeline benefits deal with B. C.
Vancouver Sun-- Nisga'a sign LNG pipeline benefits deal with B. C.
Globe and Mail-- Nisga'a Nation agree to pipeline deal with LNG for B. C.
CFTK-- Nisga'a sign Pipeline Benefits Agreement with Province
Surrey Leader-- Nisga'a Nation signs on to LNG project
Terrace Standard-- B. C., Nisga'a sign pipeline deal
Last Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Austin focused on some of the aspects of the provincial agreement, as well as the plans for industry with the proposed pipeline, asking if any other routes had been proposed for the line other than through the Lava Bed park.
Environment Minister Mary Polak outlined the review that the project had been given by the proponents before the decision was reached with the Nisga'a which would provide for a small impact on the Lava Bed park.
There were a number of different routes considered. There were six conceptual routes that were evaluated by the company, including the one that we are dealing with today at the end.
Three routes were considered that avoided the park entirely. These included a marine route through Alice Arm and Portland Inlet, a route through the Kiteen Valley and a route north of the Nass River.
They also examined two more southerly route options, known as the Alder Peak route and the south lava bed route, both of which would impact the park to some extent.
I'm just trying to get to the nub of this here so you don't get too much extraneous information or unnecessary…. In landing on this route….
Ultimately, it's worth noting that this route has fewer water course crossings in comparison to the south lava bed route. Of course, as has been discussed in the debate in second reading, the current route choice follows quite closely the route of the highway — which, of course, tends to lessen the level of disturbance that will occur in the park -- Mary Polak, BC Environment Minister
Mr. Austin then turned his attention towards the natural gas pipeline itself, returning to a theme of earlier last week of a potential redirection of natural gas passing through the pipeline, to a possible LNG Terminal development in the Nass Valley, should the Petronas led project of Lelu Island not reach a final investment decision.
I realize that this amendment will only come into effect once the full environmental assessment certificate has been approved under the law. My question: if there is no final investment decision with regards to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, will this amendment still come into effect, in any case?
Further to my previous question, can I ask the minister…? If indeed the project specified by this amendment does not take place, but another company chooses to, for example, build an LNG facility elsewhere on the coast — for example, within Nisga'a territory itself….
I think the minister is probably aware that the Nisga'a have visited Asia and have attempted to show specific sites within the Nisga'a core lands that could be used for an LNG plant. If the Pacific NorthWest was not to have a go, and they were to pull back for whatever reason, could this pipeline route then come into effect to further an LNG facility elsewhere? -- Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin
That was a theme which we reviewed last week, tied in with the more controversial aspects of NDP leader John Horgan's tour of the Northwest of November 15th.
To bring his discussion in the Legislature to a close for the moment, Mr. Austin then sought out further guarantees from the province that the proposed LNG pipeline would not reconverted to carrying diluted bitumen or other oil project.
Can the minister confirm whether in the agreement with the Nisga'a Nation there is a guarantee that this pipeline route will only be used to transport natural gas and not be used to transport — or changed later on for — diluted bitumen or any other oil product? -- Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin
For her part the Environment Minister outlined how the government did not have information as to whether or not that aspect was included in the agreement with the Nisga'a.
The proposed encroachment of the natural gas pipeline across Nisga'a land has not been universally hailed in the Nass Valley, as we outlined earlier this month there has been some push back on the proposal from a segment of the Nisga'a nation. You can review that aspect of the story here.
Mr. Austin's more wide ranging review of the topic in the Legislature last Wednesday can be reviewed from the pages of Hansard, starting at the 14:35 mark.
The Video presentation is available from the Legislature Video Archive from Wednesday, Mr. Austin's discussion point starts at the 14:35 mark.
For more items related to events in the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page here.