Jan 29 2020

TC Energy's Tracy Robinson addresses B.C. Natural Resources Forum in Prince George

Posted by Coastal GasLink

Tracy Robinson, Executive Vice-President and President of Canadian Natural Gas Pipelines at TC Energy, spoke at the BC Natural Resources Forum in Prince George, British Columbia on Jan. 28, 2020.

"TC Energy and Coastal GasLink are committed to building a world-class project, that respects communities and the environment and that treats Indigenous people with the respect they so richly deserve." 
—Tracy Robinson, Executive Vice-President and President of Canadian Natural Gas Pipelines, TC Energy

As part of her speech, Tracy shared the Extraordinary Legacy Initiative video, reflecting the Coastal GasLink values of respect for the environment, Indigenous communities and each other as we promote the safety of everyone working on and around our project. A version of this video is played at the orientation of each member of the Coastal GasLink team whether they be in the office or in the field, to re-enforce the values of our project and the importance of the Extraordinary Legacy Initiative in ensuring respect for the environment and all northern communities and people.

Tracy also spoke to current challenges, saying:

“As most of you know, building infrastructure in Canada isn’t easy. And it becomes really difficult when it is Canadian energy infrastructure, no matter if it is gas, oil, hydro, wind or solar—there are people who support, oppose or who are ambivalent towards development. Canada needs to demonstrate to the world that we can successfully build infrastructure projects like LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink if we are to remain a destination for international investment.

We recently undertook a survey of British Columbians earlier this month gauge support for Coastal GasLink. Ipsos Reid found that across British Columbia, 55 percent of the population supported our project with only 26 percent opposed. That means that better than two to one, British Columbians support Coastal GasLink. And those numbers are even stronger in the north, where our project is delivering real benefits for people and communities.

We know that northern communities support Coastal GasLink because we continue to engage with northern and Indigenous communities. Last fall, Kiel Giddens and his Prince George-based team held open houses across our host communities, where over 1,500 people turned up to learn more, and engage with our contractors in finding construction jobs. Many of those who attended our open houses were people who had been affected by the downturn in the forest industry. We know that the forest industry is having challenging times in British Columbia and we are fortunate to be in a position to help some workers who have been laid off, find new jobs and new opportunities with our contractors.

I want to speak now to the issue that is before us. Today, while we continue to employ hundreds of Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees, and while work continues along our route, work in an area near the Morice River Bridge is suspended due to a blockade. Since the project was initiated in 2012, Coastal GasLink has made real and meaningful efforts to engage with both the Unist’ot’en and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs to understand their issues and secure agreements that benefit all parties.

Last year, after the initial enforcement of the injunction, David Pfeiffer and our team successfully negotiated an Access Protocol with the Unist’ot’en Camp, Hereditary Chief Warner William and others, who were concerned about safety near the Morice River Bridge. That Protocol provided the Unist’ot’en with advance knowledge of who was coming onto their territory as well as provided resources to improve safety and security of people staying at the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre. The Protocol worked. For eight months, Coastal GasLink contractors and employees had access to the areas that had previously been blocked. One of those employees is Ed. Ed is a Construction Monitor and Community Liaison with Coastal GasLink and a member of the Wet’suwet’en community. Ed is so proud of his work on our project that he wanted to tell his story. Here is Ed

Ensuring that people like Ed could work beyond the Morice River Bridge is why we sought an Interlocutory Injunction to prevent access disruption. While we waited to receive a decision on the Injunction, David and his team continued to try and engage with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en, to get their input and ensure that their concerns were being addressed as we worked in the Morice River area. Unfortunately, with the exception of one meeting with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en and some email exchanges with the Unist’ot’en, we were unable to meaningfully engage with these groups. On New Year’s Eve, Coastal GasLink received the decision of Madam Justice Church, who agreed that an Interlocutory Injunction was warranted.

The Unist’ot’en camp then terminated the Access Protocol, and a number of the Hereditary Chiefs of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en ordered Coastal GasLink out of their territory.  Coastal GasLink complied with the wishes of the Hereditary Chief signatories and have been continually reaching out to Chief Namoks and the Hereditary Chiefs to come to a peaceful resolution to the current blockade. Unfortunately, the Chiefs have refused to meet with David or his staff.

I want to thank Premier Horgan and Minister Scott Fraser for their efforts in trying to encourage the opposed Chiefs to meet with us and thank all MLAs who are encouraging dialogue with Coastal GasLink. I would also like to thank the Premier for his strong position that the Coastal GasLink pipeline will get built and his appointment of former MP Nathan Cullen as a liaison to try and find common ground for all parties. In addition, the support of the 20 Indigenous partners communities, and local governments across the north has been invaluable to Coastal GasLink as we have advanced our project.

We remain committed to dialogue with the opposed Hereditary Chiefs, but time is running short. David’s team is here in Prince George and ready to meet the Hereditary Chiefs at their convenience. The reality is that we will be partners with the Wet’suwet’en communities and neighbours with the Indigenous people across the route for the next 40 years. We have committed to LNG Canada, and the Government of British Columbia, that there will be an in-service date of 2023 for Coastal GasLink and we intend to meet that schedule. We also have a responsibility to our 20 partner Indigenous communities across the north and those communities whose residents will be working on our project to continue to move ahead.

TC Energy and Coastal GasLink are committed to building a world-class project, that respects communities and the environment and that treats Indigenous people with the respect they so richly deserve. And we can’t wait to get it built.

Thank you."