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How WoodFibre LNG got Squamish First Nation OK

Aaron Bruce of the Squamish First Nation (left) listens as Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Petroleum Producers, speaks during the B.C. Natural Resources Forum in Prince George Wednesday. Bill Phillips photo


We hear a lot of talk from provincial politicians about the benefits of the liquefied natural gas industry in B.C.

On Wednesday, at the B.C. Natural Resources Forum in Prince George, that discussion came from some of those who are actually involved in developing the industry in the province. While the province has certainly been touting the burgeoning LNG industry, one of the pieces of the puzzle for proponents, is getting buy-in from affected First Nations.

WoodFibre LNG, near Squamish, has managed to solve that puzzle as it is the first LNG project in the project to actually get a financial go-ahead.

So how did they do it?

As it turns out, it had more to do with the First Nation involved than the province.

“From a Squamish perspective, it was a flawed environmental process,” said Aaron Bruce, Kelts-Tkinem and a partner with Ratcliff and Co. LLP. “It didn’t assess the impacts. We needed to find a solution to find out whether the process is right. So we just did it. It wasn’t a collaborate process with the Crown. It wasn’t our choice.”

He said Squamish First Nation developed an agreement with Woodfibre LNG and developed its own methodology and set out determining the value of the project. In addition, there was a lot of community engagement.

“A lot of people simply said they don’t want an LNG project in their neighbourhood,” he said.

The process came up with 25 conditions that needed to be met for the project to be approved.

“What makes this process unqiue, we entered into a legally binding agreement with the proponents,” he said. “We issued them a certificate.”

The band actually created a quasi-regulatory process.

“We found the process made the project better, made the community feel better about the project,” he said.

The 25th condition is that if all the environment conditions can be met, then they will be begin talking about revenue sharing.

The WoodFibre project is just one of many that industry proponents are hoping will come to fruition.

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