It was not an easy decision for Squamish First Nation to approve the $ 1.6 billion Woodfibre LNG proposal, according to a spokesman, but it came with a potential profit of $ 1.1 billion in land and cash.
Squamish's First State Council approved three economic benefit agreements last week – each with Woodfibre, FortisBC and the province, but "depends on fulfilled environmental conditions, according to a news release issued Thursday.
Qualified with the term "if this project is built," he talked about a 40-year agreement that included cash payments of $ 225.65 million, 1,600 short-term and 330 long-term jobs, transfers of 422 hectares of land.
"Communities are sometimes faced with difficult decisions and it is recognized that this is a difficult decision for many people," Squamish Coun. Khelsilem, whose English name is Dustin Rivers, said in a press release.
Khelsilem was not available for an interview on Thursday, but in a statement saying holding Woodfibre and Fortis responsible for the lifetime of the liquefied natural gas plant, including until its decommissioning, was the next priority of the First Nation.
"As agreed by the supporters, we will develop a management plan for the project and will have our own monitors in the field to report any non-compliance with cultural conditions, work and training," Khelsilem said.
Negotiating the impact and benefits agreement is a condition of its own environmental assessment from the Woodfibre LNG proposal, and the main problem for the company to be resolved before starting construction.
"With this vote (by the Squamish State) and what the provincial government has done, there really is no domestic problem that has to hold us back," said Byng Giraud, Woodfibre's vice president of corporate affairs.
Giraud said the company still had to work with representatives of Squamish Nation to write nine management plans that regulate environmental protection, but Woodfibre expects to issue a notice that it is underway with construction in early 2019.
"Notification and commencement of construction are two different things," Giraud said. "Notification means we authorize money for old items."
Giraud expects significant work to start on site, the old Woodfibre pulp and paper mill site southwest of Squamish in Howe Sound, next fall.
For Squamish Nation, it will kick:
• Annual payments of $ 187.8 million during the useful life of the agreement.
• Payment of $ 18.75 million on three milestones – signing of the agreement, beginning of construction and beginning of operation.
• Targeted payments include money for cultural funds of $ 3 million and $ 16.1 million aimed at employment opportunities, training and education improvement for members of Squamish Nation.
• An estimated 1,600 short-term construction and 330 long-term operation jobs where, if Squamish members do not qualify, training funds will be available.
• Business opportunities that will be awarded up to $ 872.4 million in contracts for eligible bidders can win the competition.
• Transfer of nine plots of land, a total of 422 hectares, to the State of Squamish for housing and economic development.
The mayor's acting City of Squamish, Doug Race, admitted in a written statement that Woodfibre remained a controversial proposal, but he welcomed the economic benefits, including those obtained for the Squamish Nation.
"Through our ongoing work with Squamish Nation, we are always happy to hear when they achieve the benefits of projects in their area," Race said in a statement. He is not available for interviews.
Ras added that the municipality "does not yet understand the local tax benefits that will be realized from the project (The Woodfibre)," and there are "both positive and negative community and socio-economic impacts that must be prepared by Squamish District."
The Squamish Nation decision, however, came as a surprise to the environmental group My Sea to Sky, which opposed the project, and believed that the First Nation was ready to hold a community referendum on disputed benefit agreements.
"I don't want to criticize, excessively, Squamish First Nation," said the chairman of My Sea to Sky, Eoin Finn. "They are handing over many debatable benefits that have been delayed for a long time."
"I just hope they don't get the benefits this way," Finn said.
Finn said My Sea to Sky specifically objected to the province which was carrying out its resources for the agreement that won the Squamish State support, effectively supporting the development of fossil fuels while also pledging to reduce B.C's greenhouse gas emissions.