WSANEC chiefs oppose Malahat LNG project

First Nations Chiefs on the east side of the Saanich Inlet are calling on their neighbours to stand with them.

Tsartlip Chief Don Tom

First Nations Chiefs on the east side of the Saanich Inlet are opposing the proposed Malahat LNG project and are calling on their neighbours to stand with them.

The Chiefs of the Tsawout, Pauquachin, Tseycum and Tsartlip First Nations stood at an overlook at the Tsawout community Tuesday morning. With the site of the proposed floating liquified natural gas terminal in the background, the Chiefs decried what they called a lack of consultation by the proponent, Steelhead LNG, and the granting in October last year of an export license to the company by the National Energy Board.

Steelhead LNG has proposed an LNG terminal and liquefaction plant on the west side of the inlet at Bamberton, as well as an underwater gas pipeline.

The company  announced an agreement with the Malahat First Nation in August, 2015.

Tsawout Chief Don Tom said there are no conditions under which his community would support the project, as it directly impacts on their fishing and hunting rights and spiritual connection to the inlet.

“This would not benefit us in any way and undo all of the rehabilitation work that has gone on in the Saanich Inlet.”

Tom said local first nations are trying to protect their way of life, recognized under treaty. That requires, he continued, government at all levels and proponents like Steelhead LNG to consult with them.

“Under our law, when people come in to our territory and disrupt those laws and rights, it’s our obligation to correct them.”

In a statement, Steelhead LNG wrote the project is in its early stages and “environmental stewardship of the proposed project is our number one priority.”

The company also stated they are “fully committed to evaluating (the project) in a way that is respectful, transparent and science-based.” Steelhead LNG added they will continue to engage with the WSANEC communities and other potentially affected First Nations.

The Chiefs also put the Province of B.C. “on notice that they do not have jurisdiction to interfere with the continuity of our treaty rights and will incur liability  and put any LNG project at significant risk of cancellation should they choose to provide permits and authorizations to the proponents without our consent.”

Tom added proponents of any projects, if they disregard the community, would be “invited to leave.”

“We are here to say if Steelhead LNG continues as it has been, it is unwelcome to do business in this territory,” Tom said.

The B.C. Ministry of of Natural Gas Development, in a statement, said the project would be “subject to rigorous environmental reviews and permitting processes before it could be built.” They wrote that any provincial assessment must include consultation and engagement with First Nations who may be impacted.

Harvey Underwood, Chief of the Tsawout First Nation, and Rebecca Davis, Chief of the Pauquachin, added their opposition to Malahat LNG.

Tsartlip Edler Tom Sampson said the courts have upheld First Nations treaty rights and the communities along the Saanich Inlet “are not going to give it away.”

“We are the legal owners of this land … and LNG will never come here,” he said.

Sampson advocated for people, young and old, to stand up to prevent the project.

Tom said the WSANEC First Nations are looking into legal and political options.

“We will request a meeting with the Prime Minister when he’s here on the Island on March 11 to 13,” he said. “We will discuss the Crown’s obligations and duty to First Nations.”

Tom added he welcomes neighbouring municipalities, if they stand against Malahat LNG, to contribute to a legal war chest.

Just Posted

Witnesses sought for alleged drunk driver crash in Sidney

Crash happened June 16 on East Saanich Rd. and Canora Dr.

Fake crash warns students about real consequences

Saanich Peninsula emergency crews warn against distracted driving

An upstart ferry company might be a Malahat alternative

A new ferry service might alleviate Malahat congestion. Dogwood Ferries is a… Continue reading

Feasting geese concern farmers

For farmers on the Saanich Peninsula, cereal crops like corn are starting… Continue reading

Therapeutic recovery centre likely to open in the fall

Former Choices facility in View Royal to be transformed

New stage highlight of Brentwood Bay Festival

Peninsula Country Market vendors and music accompany start of summer celebration

Police watchdog called to Kelowna after car destroyed in crash

A motor vehicle incident has closed Highway 33 in both directions

BC SPCA receives 400 reports of dogs in hot cars so far this year

Society is again urging people to leave their pets at home if they can’t keep them safe in the heat

8 B.C. communities rank as the friendliest in Canada

Eight B.C. communities can claim they are the friendliest in the country.

Canucks host all-inclusive birthday party for B.C. kids with autism

Such invitations are rare for some kids with autism, and one B.C. family knows the feeling

Heat records broken across B.C. as weather warning lifts

Thirteen records broken across B.C. on Tuesday

Alt-ed program brings mindfulness to the classroom

B.C. school leading the way in anxiety reduction strategies

Streaking fan levelled by BC Lions player hires lawyer

Toronto-based firm says the fan suffered injuries including a ‘mild traumatic brain injury’

Person involved in B.C. crash must wait longer to get their blood back

Judge extends blood seizure order as police conduct Surrey impaired driving investigation

Most Read