B.C. LNG development improving Indigenous communities: report

Journal of Commerce | Russell Hixson | November 16, 2020

A new report released by the Conference Board of Canada has concluded that B.C. LNG development is benefiting Indigenous communities and people.

The report’s findings were gleaned through a review of academic and grey literature, in consultation with the Conference Board of Canada’s Indigenous and Northern Communities.

The report, titled A Tide of Opportunity: Liquified Natural Gas Development in B.C. and Indigenous Communities found that B.C.’s LNG developments are creating jobs, providing training, raising wages, empowering entrepreneurs and creating equity opportunities for Indigenous communities.

The report also noted that the long-term revenue streams being created by LNG development are helping fund the revitalization of Indigenous language and culture, and the maintenance and expansion of community services.

Bryan Cox, president and CEO of the Canadian LNG Alliance, explained the results have taken many years of hard work. 

“I think the key really for LNG development has been around early engagement  sitting down as early as possible and having conversations,” said Cox. “I think everyone wants the same things: healthy families, healthy communities, opportunities for meaningful work. I think the project proponents in B.C. have engaged early with Indigenous nations. That’s a real piece of the report. This is hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is years of conversations and that’s what it takes to get outcomes like this.”

The report highlighted several major accomplishments, including:

  • $870 million in contracts/employment awarded to Indigenous and local companies by TC energy.
  • Kitimat LNG awarding Haisla Nation businesses 85 per cent of construction spending.
  • The formation of the First Nations Limited Partnership, a $500-million commercial partnership by and for First Nations who, together, negotiated and concluded a commercial benefits agreement for the Pacific Trails Pipeline.

“This is really the story of the Indigenous communities and what they are choosing to do,” said Cox. “They are choosing how they are wanting to engage, benefits they want to see for their communities, LNG and Canada.”

Cox also said the industry is excited at the role it could play in the reconciliation process.

“Reconciliation takes many forms,” Cox said. “Looking at the comments from Indigenous communities about how the partnerships on LNG is allowing them to strengthen their culture and community, I think that is really important. It isn’t just about jobs. It is about stronger communities.”

Cox noted he hopes B.C.’s LNG industry can also help play a role in rebuilding the country’s economy in the coming years.

“It is such a pivotal time in our country as we try to get through this second wave of COVID-19,” said Cox. “We are all looking at how to rebuild our economy to ensure that Canadians can get back on their feet and have a healthy Canada. There are not many other opportunities in the private sector as impactful as something like LNG Canada. Those types of investments benefit the entire country and the economy will be positively impacted if we continue to unlock this LNG opportunity.”

According to the Conference Board of Canada, the report, which was commissioned by the Canadian LNG Alliance, was peer reviewed and reflects input from Indigenous leaders, industry and government.