September 4, 2019
Long before construction began, the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project made collaboration and community feedback a priority. That feedback has helped improve the overall design of the project, and drove the development of the programs put in place during construction and operation to protect Indigenous culture and values along with the environment, including the Construction Monitoring and Community Liaison Program (CMCL).
The program provides opportunities for Indigenous community members to participate in construction within their traditional territory for the purposes of observing, recording and reporting on implementation of construction activities to their communities.
At the core of the program is transparency with Indigenous communities by meaningfully participating in the project to monitor the work that is being done. That open, relationship-based approach is something that Coastal GasLink believes is integral to the success of the project.
Harry Bodewitz, who is working closely with CMCL Advisors from several Indigenous communities along the project corridor, has seen the value of the program. As construction ramps up, additional CMCL Advisors will be brought on to be involved in the program.
“Something might have been planned initially, but once we actually get to the field, that plan may change, or get modified, to make sure it’s done right,” says Harry. “In the CMCL Program, we have an opportunity to observe what’s going on, discuss it and share that with our communities.”
For Mike Gouchie, a CMCL Coordinator from Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, the program provides a chance to be out in the field to make sure what matters to his community and neighboring communities’ Advisors, is at the forefront of the construction program.
“As a CMCL Coordinator,” says Mike, “I’m able to assist the community Advisors to be out in the field with Inspectors, Construction Management and myself to visit sites of interest, to understand the scope of the project in our territories and make sure environmental issues are identified,” he says.
The program isn’t just about Advisors observing. The core of the program is its connection to the community and creating trust through transparency.
When asked why the program is important to him, Mike says “it seems we’ve come to a point where everyone involved is coming to understand how much value having First Nations participation brings to these major projects.”
Once Coastal GasLink construction is up and running with Advisors in place, it will take the communities’ guesswork out of what’s truly happening within their territories. The Advisors will be out in the field reporting back to their communities, and that, Mike says, “is a meaningful relationship.”
Integrity, collaboration, and respect are at the heart of Coastal GasLink’s commitment to Indigenous communities in northern British Columbia. From the very start, Coastal GasLink has been committed to working with communities to get it right, and that includes making sure Indigenous and local communities have access to the information they need. This program is critical to creating a meaningful connection between work sites and host communities.
To date, $620 million in contract work has been awarded to Indigenous businesses for the project’s right-of-way clearing, medical, security and camp management needs, with another anticipated $400 million in additional contract and employment opportunities for Indigenous and northern B.C. communities during pipeline construction.
Additionally, over $2 billion will be spent in B.C. during construction, and more than $21 million will be paid annually in property tax payments, which will fund important community services across the project corridor, such as health care and transportation infrastructure.