To build a safe and successful pipeline project, you need a lot of help and input from others. And the Coastal GasLink team knows there’s more to building a pipeline than just materials and construction. Our success relies on working with local communities, listening to their views, incorporating their feedback where possible, and caring for sensitive landscapes and culturally and historically significant places.
Since announcing Coastal GasLink in June 2012, we have been actively meeting with and listening to input from many communities along the line. And we’ve engaged with Aboriginal groups whose traditional territories are proposed to be crossed by or are near the pipeline route. It’s something we have been and remain committed to. We know that sitting down with Aboriginal communities, even when we have different perspectives, is critical. We’re able to address their questions and concerns, and we benefit from their local and traditional knowledge. We want to build projects in a way that respects the environment, traditional and cultural resources, while providing community benefits.
This collaborative approach resulted in us investigating and preparing to apply for an alternate route to address some of the input we received from the Wet’suwet’en people. In fact, our productive two-way conversations with all Aboriginal groups has resulted in many changes to the project, and also led to Project Agreements being signed between six First Nations. The agreements mean that they will participate in the many benefits of the project, while maintaining their environment, culture and way of life. We continue to work towards Project Agreements with all Aboriginal communities along the route.
Engagement – it’s not just talk
- Twenty-five per cent of the over 320,000 hours of fieldwork on the project has involved Aboriginal participation.
- We’ve signed six long-term Project Agreements with Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Skin Tyee Nation, Nee-Tahi-Buhn Band, Yekooche First Nation, Doig River First Nation and Halfway River First Nation.
- We’ve invested in a variety of training programs, including the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association, Tribal Resources Investment Corporation, and Northwest Community College.
How we help protect the land
We have worked closely with Aboriginals to further protect and conserve the environment near the pipeline route. Throughout the development of the project we were pleased to have many Aboriginal community members join us to conduct field work. It’s a priority for us that their valuable, local knowledge goes into our project plans.
In addition, Aboriginal input during the regulatory process helped guide our efforts in developing a plan to protect caribou and grizzly bears and their habitat during construction and operation of the project, and providing funding toward management programs. We have also developed many other management plans to protect the environment and provided these to local Aboriginal communities for review and input.
Supporting this project doesn’t mean choosing between economics and environment; nor does it mean sacrificing the right to a traditional way of life. Active participation in projects like Coastal GasLink provides an opportunity for Aboriginals to influence the project and participate in skills training, contracts and jobs, and long-term financial benefits for their communities.
If there’s one message we can leave you with, it’s this – we want to collaborate; we want to listen to input; we want to protect the land and environment. We care.