VICTORIA — The company building a natural gas pipeline as part of a $40 billion liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia says it plans to resume construction despite an eviction notice served by members of a First Nation over the weekend.
Coastal GasLink said in a statement Monday it will hold safety refresher meetings for construction crews on Tuesday and Wednesday, but clearing and other work activities are expected to continue this week, including delivery of pipeline materials.
Most construction activities on the 670-kilometre pipeline, other than security and maintenance, were suspended starting Dec. 20 until Sunday because of the holidays, the company said.
The $6.2-billion pipeline would transport natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat on the coast.
The company statement on its website comes after Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs issued a letter Saturday advising the company that its staff and contractors were “trespassing” on unceded territory and demanded they leave immediately.
Fourteen protesters were arrested last January when the RCMP enforced an interim injunction at a pipeline blockade near Smithers.
The hereditary chiefs were meeting Monday and could not be immediately reached for comment, but a news conference was scheduled for Tuesday in Smithers to mark the one-year anniversary of arrests at the Wet’suwet’en camp known as Gidimt’en.
The Gidimt’en camp is one of two long-standing Wet’suwet’en locations occupied by people opposed to the pipeline. The Unist’ot’en camp, also along the pipeline route, was first set up a decade ago.
In a statement, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs said Tuesday’s news conference will address “the eviction, and the possibilities of what comes next, as well as what is required for respectful nation-to-nation engagement.”
Protests and fundraising events to support opposition to the pipeline are planned for Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Rochester, N.Y., in the coming days.
Coastal GasLink said while its workers complied with the eviction notice the company is legally permitted to operate in the area and the only people on the site over the weekend were security staff.
On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted the company an injunction against anyone blocking forest roads to the site.
Coastal GasLink said it was notified on Friday by the Unist’ot’en that the group intends to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access.
The company said it has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline path, but five hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en say the project has no authority without their consent.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2020.
The Canadian Press