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

Pandemic spurs egg-citement for backyard chickens in Greater Victoria

Fowl surge in popularity during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich looks at allowing alcohol in parks after North Vancouver gives the green light

Bylaw allowing liquor in parks ‘a very positive idea,’ mayor says

Pandemic profiles: Passion at the heart of community businesses

Businesses rely on community support to stay open

Organizer, Victoria councillor, VicPD talk about upcoming rally for Black lives

‘It’s a simple ask’: Peace rally for Black lives organizer asks people to listen

George Floyd mural appears on Victoria street

Victoria artist Paul Archer painted the mural outside his shop on Fort Street

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed:’ Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Most Read