One of British Columbia’s largest Aboriginal organizations says it is satisfied that its short- and long-term interests will be respected during construction and operation of an expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline system.

Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), in a letter to the National Energy Board, said it anticipates “positive effects” for its communities if the 1,150-km, $6.8-billion pipeline Expansion Project goes ahead. MNBC and Kinder Morgan Canada have signed a Mutual Benefits Agreement that includes a commitment to environmentally responsible development of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and consultation about Métis interests and concerns along the right-of-way during construction and subsequent operation of the pipeline.

“MNBC understands that some of the Project would be near or on lands where traditional Métis harvesting, gathering and other cultural practices may be carried on,” said Bruce Dumont, President of Métis Nation BC. “MNBC acknowledges and agrees it is satisfied with the mitigation measures proposed by Trans Mountain with respect to the expansion and further agrees there has been adequate consultation for the Project. MNBC is of the view that there will be positive effects as a result of the Project.”

Kinder Morgan Canada President Ian Anderson said he’s pleased that Métis Nation BC has expressed support for the Project, including the organization’s conclusion that there will be positive effects from an expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline. He also thanked Métis Nation BC for the time and effort they dedicated to reviewing the Application for the Expansion Project.

“MNBC’s support is very important and very significant for the Project,” Anderson added. “Métis carry out traditional land use activities all around the province, which means that their interests with respect to Trans Mountain Expansion Project encompass virtually the entire British Columbia section of the pipeline route. They have a strong interest in working together to help minimize the pipeline’s environmental footprint and we value their contributions to our work.

“I’m looking forward to continuing our consultation with President Bruce Dumont and MNBC during construction and subsequent operation of our system.”

The governments of Canada and British Columbia recognize MNBC as the official governing organization for Métis in BC. There are more than 14,000 Métis Citizens in MNBC’s Central Registry and MNBC provides “culturally relevant social and economic programs and services” in seven regions and 36 charter communities across the province.

Dumont adds, “There is a public ‘misconception’ that the pipeline expansion is widely opposed by Aboriginal groups. That is not what I see and hear, and in our case, we encompass all of British Columbia and we are the voice for the majority of the Métis in this province. We have been dealing with Kinder Morgan and this proposed Project for several years and we are satisfied that the company is very committed to being environmentally responsible. That commitment is very important to us, and we will continue working closely with them to ensure their commitment to being environmentally responsible stays front and centre.”

Métis Nation BC receives many project referrals to review each year and are working on the key projects right now — more than 50 projects — involving oil and gas, mining, forestry, electricity infrastructure and roads.

Dumont said, “MNBC’s priority is to look at these projects on behalf of our Charter Communities and when necessary, to hold local meetings to gain feedback from community members. In meetings with Trans Mountain, MNBC looked at the impacts of the Project along the entire corridor in BC — from the Alberta border to the marine facility in Burrard Inlet.”

Issues for MNBC include impacts on the environment, on opportunities for hunting and gathering and on land use. For example, if the pipeline creates more access to traditional Métis resource areas, it could impact Métis interests without requiring mitigation.

Dumont said “MNBC didn’t just review impacts related to Project construction — members want to be confident that Trans Mountain will be available to consult and deal with potential issues along the pipeline right-of-way in the decades to come.” In MNBC’s letter to the National Energy Board, Dumont notes that Trans Mountain has committed to continuing consultation over the long term.

“If something needs to be rethought, if a mitigation issue or something comes up, we want to be part of that. We are looking for an ongoing relationship and communication with Kinder Morgan Canada,” he said.

Dumont commended Anderson for taking a direct interest in the issues and concerns raised by MNBC. “I commend Ian for what he’s doing. Having a good relationship between a proponent and MNBC enables both parties to have a conversation about impacts on a local natural resource. If you have an issue you can talk directly to people at Kinder Morgan about it and get a satisfactory response.

“If you don’t have that level of trust, nothing will move forward.”

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