Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Federal funding provided for Indigenous participation in Aurora LNG CEAA process

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has transferred over 360 thousand dollars towards seven First Nations groups in the region, the funding designed to assist with their participation in the CEAA process for the Aurora LNG proposal for Digby Island.

The funding announcement which was made Friday observes that the money is to be used by the First Nation groups to review and provide comments on Aurora's Application, the EAO draft Assessment Report and the potential federal environmental assessment conditions.

A graphic (see below) which featured the funding allocation was included as part of the information statement which you can review here:

The funding announcement offers up an indication that the Environmental Assessment process for the proposed development is starting to gain some momentum.

The Documentation that has been submitted to this point regarding the project can be found from the Provincial Information Centre, with the Province's EAO process the conduit for the overview of the Aurora project.

Aurora LNG has been conducting some community engagement sessions in recent months with area First nations groups as well as those living on Digby Island and through their website have been providing updates on the process to this point.

The most recent contribution is that for the Fall and Winter period, you can download the latest Community matters item from the Aurora LNG website here.

Late last month the company released a Video presentation that outlines what the proposed development may look like and offered up some background information on their terminal development. Included in the video overview is a fair amount of attention directed towards safety measures in place related to the transit of LNG carriers to and from the terminal complex.

As well, the video notes what the company calls the potential benefits that could be delivered to the prince Rupert region, with a focus on lasting benefits to Aboriginal and local communities through the creation of employment and business opportunities and contributions to government revenue and community investment and improvement to local infrastructure.

As part of their community engagement process, the company also appeared in front of the North Coast Regional District in November, where some of their comments and the approach they are taking to community consultation appeared to be of some concern to a few of the Regional District members.

In this Northern View article of last week, Mayor Lee Brain's frustrations received a fairly extensive overview, with Mr. Brain noting that to this point the company had been unwilling to talk about a long-term, annual benefit agreement with the city to deal with any extra costs that might arrive, calling on the company to show social responsibility to ensure that everyone is taken care of.

The Mayor also joined other members of Regional District in speaking up for the residents of Dodge Cove, offering further observations related to how the project may impact on that community.

Mayor Brain has been attracting a bit of attention of late when it comes to his approach towards the large scale industrial projects that lay just a tad outside of the city's municipal boundary.

Last week his comments were included in this National Post article, part of a larger review of a number of major economic projects across Canada that have been stalled or delayed as opposition to them becomes more engaged.

The evolving National Post feature is called Arrested Development.

The Prince Rupert contribution to the series featured the title of "Prince Rupert divided over 'location, location, location' and imminent economic growth."

The main theme of the Post item was that of a divided community on the theme of LNG, with the Mayor providing a thumbnail sketch of sorts, on some of the ways that they hope to approach rapid growth, with a desire to avoid becoming a one industry town in the future.

When it comes to a look at the Lelu Island proposal, the Mayor steered clear of much of the current controversy, offering up a tutorial for the national paper as to how the the Flora Bank is a "middle school for salmon" where the fish stop each year to feast on eel grass, grow and prepare to move into saltwater.

As for the Aurora project, as the company notes in their Fall/Winter update they have submitted their Environmental Assessment Certificate application to the BC Environmental Assessment office.

Once it has been accepted by the Federal and Provincial governments agencies, as well as area First Nations. The next step in the Environmental Assessment process will come from the Environmental Agency which will make the information available to the general public and launch the start of the public comment period.

As the Environmental Assessment moves forward, notice on how the public can participate will be posted to the Aurora LNG Project page hosted by the BC Environmental Assessment Office.

If the City follows the lead of its efforts on Pacific NorthWest LNG, it would seem likely that Prince Rupert will provide many of the same thoughts as from this submission to the Pacific NorthWest process, though perhaps with a few more notes to add, considering the talking points related to the Digby island location of the November Regional District session.

Now that the theme of Aurora LNG is a discussion topic for Regional District it may soon have to compete for time at Prince Rupert City Council sessions, a forum which as of late has been focused on events related to the Pacific NorthWest project.

More items of interest related to the Aurora LNG project as well as many of the other proposed projects around the Northwest can be found here.

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