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.

LNGTrans Mountain pipeline

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

Just Posted

Highway 23 North to see construction delays starting this week

BC Hydro is working on a slope stabilization project near Revelstoke Dam

Tim Hortons serves up a thank you to front-line workers

On May 21 the Tim Hortons coffee truck came through Revelstoke

City of Revelstoke expects to stay on budget with $1.5 million roadworks project

Pavement, deep utility maintenance and sidewalks are in the plan for the Lowertown area

Revelstoke schools reopen

The Superintendent said 80 per cent of elementary and 40 per cent of high school students returned

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Rain forecast could flood entrance tunnel, city staff to evaluate

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Most Read