TransCanada has recently announced that its Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project is conditionally awarding $620 million in contract work to northern B.C. First Nations.
This would benefit Aboriginal businesses for the project’s right-of-way clearing, medical, security and camp management needs.
The project anticipates another $400 million in additional contract and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and local B.C. communities during pipeline construction.
All contracts remain conditional upon a final investment decision – which is expected to be made later this year – by the Joint Venture Participants of LNG Canada for their proposed natural gas liquefaction facility in Kitimat.
“This is terrific news,” said Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance. “When there is a final investment decision, it will mean employment for First Nations; it will mean a chance to work towards careers, and not just short-term jobs, which is really important to us.”
“It means revenue, and that means opportunity to work on closing the social-economic gap that keeps indigenous people so far behind,” she added.
Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Vivian Tom said the announcement is an important step forward.
“It shows the world how well First Nations and industry can work together to achieve significant economic benefits, protect the environment and preserve cultural values,” she said. “We look forward to the ongoing work with Coastal GasLink to maintain our mutually beneficial relationship.”
According to TransCanada, more than one-third of all field work completed on the project has been conducted by Aboriginal people to date.
Thus far, the Coastal GasLink team has signed project agreements with 95 per cent of Aboriginal communities along the route. These agreements will also provide Aboriginal groups a sustainable revenue source over the life of the project.
TransCanada says the Coastal GasLink project will employ a range of job opportunities that require a variety of responsibilities, skill levels and trade specialization from Aboriginal and local resources.
Specialized project work includes right-of-way clearing, gravel processing, access road development, camp and storage site preparation, camp support services, materials hauling, right-of-way grading, welding, installation, site clean-up, reclamation and other activities.
Last October the RDBN sent a letter to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission raising several concerns over the proposed pipeline project. One of these concerns was the fact that Coastal GasLink had made no specific commitments regarding the use of local employment and the provision of apprenticeship positions for local employees.
In a letter sent to the RDBN board earlier this year responding to some of these concerns, Coastal GasLink said that when it comes to local hiring the company goes “beyond the industry standard.”
The Coastal GasLink pipeline would start in northeastern B.C. and then run approximately 670 km to Kitimat, passing south of Houston for part of that route.
Although TransCanada has recently abandoned its plans to build a workers’ camp near Burns Lake, plans to build a camp south of Houston are still on track.
The proposed camp – called Huckleberry Camp – would accommodate approximately 800 workers to support the construction needs of the pipeline project.