All First Nations agreements now in place for Coastal GasLink pipeline

TransCanada says it has signed project agreements with all 20 indigenous communities along its Coastal GasLink pipeline route from Northeast B.C. to Kitimat.

Support for the agreements comes from both traditional and hereditary leaders in the communities, the company said in a news release Thursday.

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"This is an important milestone for the Coastal GasLink team," Rick Gateman, president of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project, said in a statement.

"When we first began this project over six years ago, our goal was to build more than just relationships with First Nations communities in B.C.; it was to build trusted partnerships, and that has made all the difference. We are grateful to these First Nations communities for this opportunity and appreciate the incredible support they have shown us over the years."

Earlier this year, TransCanada said it had signed agreements to provide $620 million worth of contracts to more than a dozen First Nations governments and businesses.

Another $400 million in contract awards are expected, totalling a $1 billion impact for indigenous communities and businesses, TransCanada says.

Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance, said the announcement was great news.

"When the pipeline goes through, it will mean employment and career opportunities for Indigenous people, and long-term revenue for their communities and councils," Ogen-Toews said in a statement.

Indigenous communities with agreements include: Stellat'en First Nation; Saik'uz First Nation;Cheslatta Carrier Nation; McLeod Lake Indian Band; Saulteau First Nations; Kitselas First Nation; West Moberly First Nations; Lheidli T'enneh First Nation; Nadleh Whut'en Indian Band; Burns Lake Indian Band; Blueberry River First Nations; Halfway River First Nation; Doig River First Nation; Wet'suwet'en First Nation; Yekooche First Nation; Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band; Skin Tyee First Nation; Witset First Nation; Nak'azdli Whut'en; Haisla Nation.

The $4.8-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline will take natural gas from Northeast B.C. to Kitimat, where it will processed and shipped to Asian markets through Shell's LNG Canada project. Both projects have secured regulatory approvals by the province, and a final investment decision on LNG Canada is imminent.

The project has been challenged over whether the province has jurisdictional authority over the pipeline, or the federal government.

Earlier this month, a group of Northern B.C. mayors penned a letter to Michael Sawyer and the West Coast Environmental Law Association about their legal challenge, and voiced their disappointment with his 11th hour effort to stall the pipeline.

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