Work on Coastal GasLink Pipeline to Resume Following Draft Agreement

March 2, 2020 Updated: March 2, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

SMITHERS, B.C.—Work is expected to resume today on a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia that has been at the centre of protests that have disrupted both rail and road traffic in many parts of the country.

It follows a proposed arrangement that was reached Sunday during talks in Smithers, B.C. involving Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and senior ministers of the federal and B.C. governments. The agreement still needs the approval of the Wet’suwet’en people.

Details of the draft accord, which centres on Indigenous rights and land titles, were not disclosed, however, a joint statement by representatives of Wet’suwet’en Nation, the province and the federal government acknowledged they had not come to an agreement on the pipeline.

Chief Woos, one of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders, called the draft a milestone for everyone involved, though he added the “degree of satisfaction is not what we expected.”

The Wet’suwet’en are governed by both a traditional hereditary chief system and elected band councils. A majority of its councils have approved the pipeline, but some of the hereditary chiefs, including Woos, remain staunchly opposed to it running through their traditional territory.

After the proposal was announced, Coastal GasLink issued a statement saying it would resume construction activities in the Morice River area on Monday. That work was put on pause while the talks, which began on Thursday, continued.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Deer, the secretary of the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake, said Sunday that activists had decided to maintain their rail blockade on the territory south of Montreal, at least for now.

Deer said the Mohawks want more clarification on the proposed arrangement before making a final decision.

Meanwhile, the Coastal GasLink pipeline is supported by five of six elected Wet’suwet’en band councils, and 20 First Nations have successfully negotiated agreements with the company on the project.