Three major projects have taken centre stage in B.C.: the Coastal GasLink pipeline project (top), the Trans Mountain expansion project (left) and the Site C dam (right). (Black Press Media files)

B.C. VIEWS: The glacial pace of resource development

As delays continue, costs climb and confusion reigns

There is nothing simple about resource extraction in B.C.

At times it’s hard to tell what’s messier – the process or the politics.

Three major projects are currently staggering toward a future that will: pave a way to a greener economy, hasten the world’s descent into climate catastrophe, bolster the economic fortunes of indigenous communities, tighten the yoke of colonization, fund our schools and hospitals for generations, or feed the revenue pursuits of corporate boardrooms.

If British Columbians are confused, it is not surprising.

Last week the RCMP moved in to enforce a court injunction at one of the more complicated projects – construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline near Smithers.

For more than a year, protesters have blocked construction of the pipeline because the company had failed to gain permission from the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, whose traditional and unceded land the pipeline will cross.

The $6.6-billion project is a critical step in the construction of a $40-billion liquified natural gas export terminal at Kitimat. It has the support of Premier John Horgan and his NDP government, and clearance by the B.C. Supreme Court.

More importantly, it has the support of 20 First Nations, including five of six elected councils from the Wet’suwet’en.

They see the project as a way to lift their communities out of poverty.

“For the communities and councils, it means a stable and long-term source of revenues that will help them work on closing the social-economic gap that keeps people so far behind others in Canada,” First Nations LNG Alliance CEO Karen Ogen-Toews, a former elected chief councillor of the Wet’suwet’en, told the Northern Sentinel News in 2018.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs see the conflict as a defining moment in a fight to recognize the long unsettled claims to indigenous rights and title in B.C.

Included in that call is the obligation described by the Canadian Supreme Court for the informed consent of Indigenous peoples before projects proceed.

However, the extent of those obligations were defined just days earlier by a unanimous decision by the Federal Court of Appeal about another contentious pipeline.

Last Monday, the court concluded the federal government had done its duty in negotiating with First Nations along the Trans Mountain Pipeline route after failing to do so earlier.

While the court admitted consent was not unanimous, it said, “While the parties challenging the cabinet’s decision are fully entitled to oppose the project, reconciliation and the duty to consult do not provide them with a veto over projects such as this one.”

It was the second court defeat for TransMountain opponents in two weeks. Earlier, the Supreme Court squashed B.C.’s claim it should be allowed to regulate what flows through the pipelines.

Meanwhile, the massive Site C hydroelectric dam continues to draw ire.

The project, aimed at supplying our electrical needs in a post-fossil fuel environment, was criticized in a United Nations report because it failed to consult Indigenous groups. (Ironically, the report was later criticized by Indigenous groups because its authors failed to consult them.)

Despite the protests, delays and court challenges, work is proceeding on all three of these projects.

But not without cost. On Friday, Trans Mountain said the cost to build its pipeline had climbed to $12.6 billion from $7.4 billion.

Against this backdrop of delay and obfuscation, the mountains of coal piled at the Robert Banks terminal near Tsawwassen await export to Asian markets. Next door tower the shipping containers that arrive from those Asian ports, filled with the disposable products our society insatiably demands – most produced in coal-fired factories.

Greg Knill is a columnist and former Black Press editor. Email him at greg.knill@blackpress.ca

BC Views

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

Just Posted

Rockets’ Pavel Novak cracks central scouting list for upcoming NHL draft

Novak is ranked No. 85 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters

YMCA Okanagan offers care for children of essential service workers

Priority will be given to children aged 5 to 12 years old

Kelowna Rotary Club donates $50,000 for youth treatment program

The donation will support The Bridge’s Okanagan youth Recovery House project

Pink supermoon lights up night sky in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Largest and brightest full moon of the year was most visible on April 7

Nakusp and Kelowna businesses partner up to make face masks during COVID-19 crisis

The businesses expect to deliver their first set of masks on April 7 or 8

Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, fear it’s a mistake

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

COVID-19: B.C. students describe life during pandemic

Most teens wonder what the future will be like after COVID-19

COLUMN: Local journalism more important than ever before.

Response to recent farm worker situation was concerning

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

COVID-19 self-isolation plan or quarantine, returning B.C. residents told

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

RCMP probe sudden death of North Okanagan child

8 year old flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Most Read