Construction of Alberta sections of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion were completed a decade ago. (Kinder Morgan Canada)

Is Trans Mountain a pipeline to prosperity for Indigenous communities?

B.C., Alberta revenue sharing embraced by small, rural, poor first nations

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet prepares to green-light the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion for a second time on June 18, a new study examines why Indigenous support for pipelines is strongest among poor and remote communities.

Kinder Morgan Canada disclosed that revenue sharing agreements commit the company to pay $400 million to Indigenous communities along the pipeline route from Alberta to the B.C. coast. The federal government took over 43 “mutual benefit agreements” with Indigenous communities, 10 in Alberta and the rest in B.C., when it paid $4.5 billion for the pipeline in May 2018.

Most details are still confidential, but what is publicly known indicates that Indigenous communities that support the project have small populations, lower than average incomes and few alternatives for improving their economic circumstances, says a report released Tuesday by the Fraser Institute.

“The highly visible opposition of some B.C. first nations to pipeline construction has created the impression that all Indigenous people are opposed to resource development,” wrote Tom Flanagan, author of How First Nations Benefit from Pipeline Construction. “That impression, however, is false.”

Opponents are mainly Lower Mainland groups, notably the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, which are active in large urban real estate development.

RELATED: Trans Mountain pipeline – the economics of oil

RELATED: Coastal GasLink prepares pipeline work camps

“Squamish also has a lucrative contract with a small LNG export facility,” Flanagan wrote. “And Tsleil-Waututh’s opposition has been funded for the last decade by the Tides Foundation, which also subsidizes a broad array of environmentalist organizations opposed to Trans Mountain and other pipelines.”

After campaigning in 2017 to oppose the pipeline expansion, Premier John Horgan ordered the B.C. government to join the court challenge launched by Squamish, Tsleitl-Waututh and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby. A separate reference case on whether B.C. can regulate diluted bitumen shipments was rejected unanimously by five B.C. Court of Appeal judges in May, and Attorney General David Eby confirmed he intends to try again at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Flanagan obtained details of one Indigenous community’s benefit agreement, the tiny Peters Band, a member of the Sto:lo Nation in the Fraser Valley near Hope. Financial statements filed in a membership dispute showed a payment of $606,000 from Kinder Morgan in 2014/15 for hiring consultants to study the project. The following year the Peters Band received $2,586,420 as a pre-payment on the mutual benefit agreement, according to documents filed with the federal Indigenous ministry. The total value of the Peters agreement has been estimated at $15 million over 20 years.

“In addition to the upfront payments, the band is supposed to receive $500,000 a year for the future life of the project,” Flanagan wrote. “Given that the existing pipeline started carrying oil in 1953, that lifetime could be many years.”

Flanagan notes that similar benefit agreements are in place for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which runs from northeast B.C. to a liquefied natural gas export facility at Kitimat. Elected councils along the entire route have signed benefits agreements, although most public attention has been on a group of Wet’suwet’en who have established a protest camp.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs drop a close game in Parksville

Spruce Kings come back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3

Handmade for Hope proposal at Orca Place denied by council

Motion carried to allow use of the former temporary shelter space as exercise room instead

Ballenas Whalers advance to junior varsity Subway Bowl title game

Parksville squad will play for provincial high school football crown

Language showcase at Qualicum Beach Museum

2019 is the year of Indigenous languages

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

A pawsitive ending: Missing puppy found after nine-day search in Chilliwack

Pit bull Frankie ran from dog sitter booked through app

One person injured in rollover crash on the highway in Nanaimo

Accident happened a little after noon in southbound lanes near Cedar Road

Federal laws at heart of West’s anger up for debate, as Liberals begin outreach

Vancouver mayor to Trudeau’s western critics: ‘Get over yourselves’

Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011

Teen developed ‘popcorn lung’ due to vaping: Ontario doctors

Boy went from being in perfect health to being on life support after just five months

B.C. judge tosses ‘N’ driver’s claim he was just using phone to decline his mom’s call

Distracted driving laws are more strict for Class 7, or Novice drivers, the judge noted

Woman calls 911 to say she was late for train, asks Ontario police for ‘emergency ride’

Peel Regional Police received more than 180,000 improper calls so far this year

It could take you 218 years to save up for a house in this B.C. neighbourhood

It would take 27 years in the most affordable city in the Lower Mainland

Most Read