The Coastal GasLink Pipeline project involves the construction and operation of an approximately 650-km natural gas pipeline from near Dawson Creek to near Kitimat. (TransCanada image)

Editorial: TransCanada must cooperate with regional district

If TransCanada goes forward with its controversial plan to run a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, communities along Highway 16 could soon feel the effects as the company builds massive camps for its crews of workers.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) is trying to make sure these communities get a good deal in exchange for the presence of the camps, including commitments from TransCanada to upgrade local infrastructure, hire local people — including Indigenous people — and protect the natural environment. TransCanada should listen up.

Work camps located near Burns Lake and Houston would house approximately 600 and 850 workers respectively during peak period of construction, according to a December 2017 letter from TransCanada to the RDBN. Those are big population increases that could strain local resources.

To legally build the Tchesinkut Lake camp (near Burns Lake), the Calgary-based company needs permission from the regional district. The same is likely true for the Huckleberry site (south of Houston). The RDBN has urged TransCanada to start the application process immediately for the temporary land-use permits that it will need.

Those applications would normally set in motion a review process about the environmental and social impacts linked to the work. But the company has said that it won’t apply until contractors have been hired to build those camps. This, in turn, hinges on whether LNG Canada — an oil and gas behemoth led by Shell Canada — decides to invest in an export facility in Kitimat.

That might seem reasonable enough at first — why get permits for an uncertain project? But TransCanada could easily afford that level of engagement in the communities where it intends to operate.

Instead, the company appears to be deliberately dragging its feet. Call it a power play. Once those contracts have been inked, the regional district will face pressure to issue the permits immediately, potentially reducing how much time members of the community will to have for input.

TransCanada has said that it wants to make sure that construction happens before the permits expire (they are good for a maximum of three years), as if to suggest that the company mustn’t apply too early or they’ll miss their window of opportunity. This is no excuse. The permits are renewable, and the RDBN could even delay issuing them until TransCanada is ready to start work.

In face of TransCanada’s intransigence, RDBN is going ahead and reviewing the Tchesinkut Lake project ahead of the company’s application — this is a good idea.

There are broader questions to be asked about whether fossil fuel pipelines should proceed at all in an age of cataclysmic man-made climate change. But if this one does proceed, ordinary people should have control over how their lives and communities are affected.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Hydro replaced poles in Houston on Oct. 23 causing a power outage in many spots in Houston. The next power outage for a transformer replacement is for today at Oct. 28 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. in these areas - 2240 to 2275 Baggerman Place; 3710 to 3895 Baggerman Crescent. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Pole replacements in Houston

BC Hydro replaced poles in Houston on Oct. 23 causing a power… Continue reading

District of Houston
Keep on trucking … not

Council is shelving a planned truck stop feasibility study in favour of… Continue reading

District of Houston
District honing in on webcasting of meetings, events

Would further engage residents in District business

Claude Parish Memorial Arena
Arena lobby project receives financial top up

Money comes from Dungate profits

Those pushing for the expansion, are in the process of gathering public input before sending in the application to the government. (Houston Today File photo)
A few from Buckflats meet over Dungate Community Forest expansion

The meeting was held on the back of the suggestion to have an advisory committee

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Tyrell Giroux was arrested by Williams Lake RCMP on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Facebook video screenshot)
Tsilhqot’in leaders call for suspension of officers seen in controversial Williams Lake arrest

Disturbing video demands an immediate, independent investigation, says TNG

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read