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Enbridge says 60 per cent of ...

Enbridge says 60 per cent of first nations buy into its Northern Gateway Pipeline

Enbridge says 60 per cent of first nations buy into its Northern Gateway Pipeline
June 5, 2012

In the proposed Northern Gateway project, a pipeline similar to this would carry bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C.
Photograph by: Candace Elliott, The Journal, File, Edmonton Journal

Enbridge Inc. said Tuesday that almost 60 per cent of the aboriginal communities along its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline route have accepted an equity position in the $5.5 billion project,

“We made it available to about 45 of the aboriginal communities along the right-of-way,” said Paul Stanway, manager of Northern Gateway Communications for Enbridge. “Almost 60 per cent of those eligible communities along the right-of-way have now signed agreements to be partners with us in ownership of Northern Gateway.”

Enbridge is seeking support from first nations along the route of its controversial pipeline, which is to cross northern B.C. and half of northern Alberta, a distance of 1,177 kilometres linking Bruderheim Alta. with the B.C. port city of Kitimat. Enbridge intends to build a terminal at Kitimat, where tankers will load oilsands bitumen, and transit through coastal waters en route to Asian markets.

Stanway said that the commitment by the first nations is “a very good start,’ at obtaining broad social approval for the project.

“It demonstrates that there is aboriginal support,” he said.

The project is being strongly opposed by some first nations, who vow the pipeline will not cross their territories. One of the most vocal is the Yinka Dene Alliance, which represents five first nations with territories between Prince George and the Coast Range, said Tuesday it remains opposed despite the equity offer.

“The Yinka Dene Alliance position has not changed and will not change,” said Yinka Dene coordinator Geraldine Thomas-Flurer.
She said the alliance has no comment on Enbridge’s announcement. “We don’t respond to other first nation’s dealings out of respect, so we have no comment, only that the Yinka Dene Alliance position has not faltered or swayed in any way.”

On its website, the Yinka Dene say that more than 100 first nations in Western Canada have said no to pipelines and oil tankers.

At Kitimat, Haisla chief councillor Ellis Ross said the Haisla are not part of the Enbridge deal.

He said the Haisla have a greater stake because they face the pipeline and its risks, the terminal and its risks, and tanker traffic and those risks.
The Haisla have yet to talk to Enbridge but he said the Haisla are opposed “in principle,” to the product — oilsands bitumen.
“The one guarantee I can see is that when a spill happens the one absolute is that it will impact our way of life. And everybody will be arguing about whose responsibility it is and who is going to pay for it. And after that decision is made, they will probably take it to court. That will last 20 years and the settlement will probably be half of what was proposed.

“So it’s not that I don’t trust the people at Enbridge. I just don’t trust corporations period.”
Enbridge is not identifying what aboriginal communities have accepted the offer and is not identifying them by region. The offer, which expired at midnight, May 31, was for those first nations and Metis communities with reserves or traditional territories within 80 kilometres on either side of the proposed pipeline route to share in a 10 per cent ownership stake of the pipeline.

Stanway said Enbridge estimates that over 30 years, the 10 per cent stake would generate revenues of about $280 million. The equity position was allocated on a basis of population and the impact the pipeline would have on communities, Stanway said, so not all communities will receive the same number of ownership units.

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