Thursday, May 7, 2015

Many eyes watching and waiting for outcome of Lax Kw'alaams sessions

As members of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation continue on with their information sessions and votes on the 1 billion dollar proposal from Petronas/Pacific NorthWest LNG and Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipeline group, media groups are making quick work to share word of even the slightest hint or rumour as to how the community is voting.

The Lax Kw'alaams Band Council has provided no official updates related to the information sessions and voting process and no official word is expected until the end of the process, but that hasn't stopped anecdotal information to seep out of the gatherings so far.

Some of the unverified notes out of Lax Kw'alaams started to get distributed earlier in the week, with suggestions from one or two members of the community in attendance, that the vote went unanimously against the proposal from the energy company.

With comments from the meetings suggesting that the key concern of those in attendance was reportedly related to the location of the proposed terminal and the impact on fisheries in the area.

The voting process for the proposal has been conducted by show of hands in the public forum, as opposed to a secret ballot system. The engagement process for the proposal that is in place, features an opportunity for the energy company to make its case for the benefit package, followed then by discussion from community members.

So far, the early returns, as relayed by community members have delivered a string of headlines that for the most part suggest that the proposal is not gaining acceptance to this point.

B. C. First Nation voters reject $1B for LNG project in 1st of 3 votes
First Nations Reject $1Billion in LNG benefit offer 
First Nation rejects $1billion in LNG vote (video)
Northern B. C. First Nation rejects more than $1B in first stage of vote over natural gas proposal
B. C. First Nations Group pushes back against Petronas venture
Lax Kw'alaams says no to LNG Benefits package
Prince Rupert LNG meeting (video)
Second LNG Vote taking place tonight in Prince Rupert

Voting continues tonight at the North Coast Convention Centre at Chances in Prince Rupert and then again in Vancouver on May 11 and 12.

**Media notes related from Thursday's vote is below:

B.C. First Nations likely to reject Petronas LNG project 
Lacklustre support from B.C. First Nations signals trouble for LNG facility
Energy detente on the Pacific front?
Environment dwarfs financial merit in LNG deal for B. C. First Nations
Another Unanimous No to Petronas Billion Dollar Offer to Lax Kw'alaams
No wealth, No Justice in $1 Billion LNG Offer to First Nation Band
B. C. First Nations group rejects $1 billion offer from LNG venture (video)
B. C. First Nations group rejects $1 billion offer from LNG venture
Prince Rupert Lax Kw'alaams LNG Vote update (video)

Once those votes are completed, we should hear something official from the Lax Kw'alaams Government regarding where the proposal stands and what steps, if any, that they may have in mind related to the process after the public consultation period.

Should the final tally of the vote deliver a negative review for the proposed benefit package it will most no doubt be a disappointment for the Petronas group.

As we outlined over the weekend, Petronas has been successful in negotiating similar styles of arrangements with other First Nations along the way.

For those that oppose the proposed project for Lelu Island however, the lack of an agreement with Lax Kw'alaams doesn't necessarily suggest the project won't go forward. As the process in place for such developments does not guarantee any First Nations with a veto over projects of this nature.

What could then follow would be an option to seek a judicial review, or seek injunctions related to the proposed development, that process however has its own twists and turns, which Business in Vancouver outlined an article posted to their website today.

As well, as has been noted in the past, the the project has not to this point been granted a certificate from the CEAA, as that process continues into the Spring and perhaps into the summer.

Petronas is expected to make its Final Investment Decisions later this year, the status of the CEAA approval and perhaps setbacks in engagement with First Nations could have some impact on the timeline for delivery of that final go ahead.

More background on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project can be found on our archive page here.

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