Thursday, January 17, 2019

With Port of Prince Rupert moratorium, Lelu Island marine areas to be off limits for future development

A significant announcement from the Port of Prince Rupert offices today
with the Port announcing a moratorium on development for some of the

marine areas off of Lelu Island

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is closing the door any future development off of Flora Bank, as well as Agnew and Horsey Banks, advising that it will be prohibiting any industrial development in those marine areas adjacent to Lelu Island. A decision which the Port notes will ensure the protection of important marine habitat within its jurisdiction.

In an information release from today, the Port outlined how the past Environmental assessment from 2016 related to the Pacific Northwest LNG project had determined that the terminal could be developed without significant adverse environmental effects in the area.

However the Port also acknowledged that it would have required costly and complex features to mitigate the environmental risks to the environmentally sensitive areas.

From that review, the port has determined that any development in this marine area would be a challenge and acknowledges there are lingering concerns and uncertainty related to how a development in this area may pose risk to the health and ecology of the Skeena River estuary and its role in supporting healthy salmon populations in the system.

The marine areas off of Flora, Horsey and Agnew Banks (in purple)
will be see development prohibited as part of a moratorium
that was announced today by the Prince Rupert Port Authority
(map courtesy of PRPA)

Despite the positive environmental review decision and original plans to move forward with the Pacific Northwest LNG project, Malaysia's Petronas Energy, the largest shareholder of the massive LNG development cancelled the project on July 25th of 2017.

Speaking to today's announcement Shaun Stevenson, the President and CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert outlined how there are other sites available for future development that won't deliver the same challenges.

“We recognize the importance that a healthy salmon population has to our communities, in particular First Nations, and we share this value ... We know that this site has both challenges and concerns with development and there are superior development sites available for future projects at the Port of Prince Rupert that are broadly supported by our stakeholders.”

The announcement to impose a development moratorium on the marine areas off of Lelu Island was made through a process of ongoing dialogue between the Port and the hereditary and elected leaders of both Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams.

Among those expressing their support for today's move by the Port were:

Wii Smooygit Lyoon’anns (Carl Sampson Sr.). 
“The hereditary leaders of the Gitwilgyoots tribe of Lax Kw’alaams welcome the moratorium on industrial development on Flora, Horsey and Agnew Banks. The decision signifies a recognition of the concerns raised in regard to potential environmental impacts that port development could have in the area.”

Harold Leighton, Chief Councillor for the Metlakatla First Nation
"The Metlakatla First Nation welcomes the development moratorium on Flora, Agnew and Horsey Banks in Coast Tsimshian territory. These areas are part of the Skeena River estuary and provide important juvenile habitat for several species of salmon that are of critical importance to our members. This moratorium is a positive step toward ensuring the sustainability of this vital resource."

Mayor John Helin of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation
“We are pleased with the decision to impose the developmental moratorium on Flora, Horsey and Agnew Banks within the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Land Use Plan to guide future port expansion. We feel that this moratorium is in keeping with our mutual goals of safe and sustainable economic growth.”

The moratorium will be formalized as part of the Prince Rupert Port Authority's Land Use Management Plan, it will be included as part of a review that is set to get underway later this year.

The land use plan review will include public consultation. The Prince Rupert Port Authority undergoes a review of its Land Use Management Plan with the purpose of informing and guiding future development of federal Crown land within its jurisdiction.

You can review more notes related to Port development planning from our archive page here.

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