(News Release) PORT ALBERNI – Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Steelhead LNG are pleased to announce that they will continue to explore the proposed development of a US$30 billion LNG Project at Sarita Bay on Vancouver Island. This follows Huu-ay-aht citizens voting in favour of doing so today at the Nation’s People’s Assembly in Port Alberni. The proposed Project, which includes a 24‐mtpa (million tonnes per annum) land‐based facility, is one of the largest proposed LNG projects in British Columbia.
The People’s Assembly vote approves the lease of Huu-ay-aht Treaty Settlement Lands to the proposed Project and the carrying out of comprehensive environmental, traditional-use and technical studies in advance of a final investment decision expected in 2018. The vote comes after months of intensive community engagement with Huu-ay-aht citizens, which saw Huu-ay-aht government and staff members, Steelhead CEO Nigel Kuzemko and Steelhead LNG engineers and staff members meet regularly with Huu-ay-aht elders and citizens in Anacla, Port Alberni, Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. The work to address Huu-ay-aht citizen questions and concerns included community engagement sessions, home visits, visits for Steelhead LNG staff to key Huu-ay-aht cultural sites, as well as a tour of hydraulic fracturing operations in Alberta by Huu-ay-aht citizens.
“Today’s vote is an indication that our Nation is open for business and that certainty can be achieved for projects on First Nations territory in BC,” said Jeff Cook, Elected Chief Councillor of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. “The important thing to remember is that, as a Treaty Nation that is once again in control of natural resource projects on its territory, partnerships and certainty with us must be negotiated and earned on our terms and in accordance with the principles that have guided our Nation and our people for generations. Steelhead LNG’s approach and their respect for our people, our principles and our processes are an example of how companies should conduct business with First Nations.”
Steelhead LNG and the Huu-ay-aht will now carry out technical studies that will examine a wide range of environmental and engineering issues related to the proposed Project, including: air quality and emissions, fishing and freshwater resources, Huu-ay-aht traditional land use, marine issues (fishing, carrier traffic, crabbing, eel grass, marine habitats), wildlife (migratory birds, species at risk), noise, transportation and roads and socio-economic issues.
“While this vote represents an important milestone for our proposed Project, we recognize that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Kuzemko. “Huu-ay-aht citizens have identified a number of issues that are important to them, and we look forward to studying those issues closely with the Huu-ay-aht before a Final Investment Decision is made in 2018.”
If a Final Investment Decision to build the proposed LNG facility is made in 2018, it’s expected up to 4,000 jobs would be created during the construction phase, with 300 to 400 full-time jobs created when the plant is operational. In addition, the proposed Project would generate hundreds of spin-off jobs and business opportunities in the Alberni Valley in many sectors, including: business administration, hospitality, manufacturing, first aid, accommodation, recreation, tourism, transportation, catering, security and other service sectors. This includes local spin-off jobs with restaurants, schools, grocery stores, hotels, hospitals and providers of medical, business, heavy machinery maintenance, industrial and other services.
As the proposed Project moves into the feasibility stage, five new jobs for Huu-ay-aht citizens will be created in 2014 and early 2015 to support the different activities related to the next phase of technical studies. The first position will be for a Huu-ay-aht Employment Strategy Advisor, who will create a long-term education and training strategy for Huu-ay-aht citizens to secure the direct and spin-off jobs that will be created if the LNG facility goes ahead.
To that end, Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Steelhead LNG will work with the provincial government and Vancouver Island colleges, such as North Island College, Vancouver Island University and Camosun College, to develop new trades programs that would provide Huu-ay-aht citizens with funding and training for LNG project-related jobs such as pipefitters, welders, plumbers, iron workers, equipment operators and electricians. The long-term employment strategy for Huu-ay-aht citizens will also include capacity-building education and training for a wide range of administrative, technical and professional service careers such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, human resources officers and numerous other administrative positions.