Friday, August 23, 2019

Ridley Terminals sale an example of the rising cost of Social Licence?: National Post article

Social Licence, it was a term first made famous in the Northwest by Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen in 2013, who made it a guiding principle over the years as he spoke to the issues related to resource development in the region.

In a household mailer to constituents at that time, Mr. Cullen described Social Licence as follows:

"A "Social License to operate" means having the support and input that every company needs from the community before and during development. Even though it isn't written into law, companies and communities alike are starting to realize that a "social license" is one of the most important permits they need to achieve before shovels can hit the dirt" 

The talking point of ensuring that Social Licence was considered for regional projects gained wider attention as the list of LNG Terminal and pipeline proposals began to appear, many of them planned  for Prince Rupert, all of them now long since abandoned as the fates would hold.

Since that introduction to the topic from the soon to be departing MP, the concept of Social Licence and the need to address it has become a working element of many of the industrial or resource based projects across the region, mentioned often by federal, provincial and municipal politicians.

The impact of Social Licence is the narrative to a recent National Post article which explored some of the factors related to the recent sale of Ridley Terminals to a pair of American investment firms, with a ten percent stake diverted and to be shared by the Metlakatla First Nation and Lax Kw'alaams Band.

Jesse Snyder is the author of the article and he notes how the move by the Federal Government to deliver the ten percent share of the coal terminal to the First Nations is a possible signal of the "rising cost of winning Indigenous support for natural resource projects"

Seemingly suggesting that the Federal Government initiative is a transfer that is akin to a gift, Mr. Snyder notes that both Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams (the latter after a change of local government) were both set to benefit from a range of agreements that they had reached with the Malaysian energy company Petronas, which had negotiated a number of benefit agreements between Pacific Northwest LNG and both First Nations.

Those benefits however became historical documents with the cancellation of the Pacific Northwest LNG project back in 2017.

At the time of the Petronas decision, Mr. Cullen had highlighted the lack of Social Licence as a key factor towards the cancellation of the project.

The sidebar of the latest Ridley Terminals story seems to suggest that the ten percent share of the North Coast industrial site is some kind of consolation gift in the wake of that now dead LNG deal.

You can read the full article here.

It's an interesting look at the Ridley Terminals sale, and in an ironic political twist, while the apparent application of the Social Licence concept is the guiding theme for the National Post story; Mr. Cullen the prime advocate for the initiative in the Northwest has been one of the loudest critics of the sale of the Terminal.

Though much of his commentary is more concerned with the handover of the Canadian asset to the American firms, as opposed to the share of the facility now held by the two First Nations.

You can find more background on Ridley Terminals from our archive page here.

To view the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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