Agreement would give pipeline workers access to area by Thursday afternoon
by Chantelle Bellrichard, CBC News,
A tentative agreement has been reached to allow workers for a natural gas pipeline company to access to an area in northern B..C. that had been the focal point of a First Nation protest.
The hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en Nation spelled out some of the details of the tentative deal in a Facebook livestream on Wednesday from the healing centre of the Unist’ot’en camp.
The camp is the site of the remaining blockade preventing Coastal GasLink workers from accessing to the Wet’suwet’en territory, which sits about 300 kilometres west of Prince George, B.C.
Under the deal, the RCMP would agree not to enter the healing centre without permission and the Wet’suwet’en would allow workers to access the territory by Thursday 2 p.m. PT.
The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have a meeting planned Thursday morning with the RCMP and Coastal GasLink to iron out the final details.
The Mounties have been enforcing a court injunction granting workers with the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project access to a road and bridge from which they had been blocked by opponents of the project. On Monday the RCMP entered the first of two blockades and arrested 14 people.
The pipeline project is run by TransCanada Corp., now officially known as TC Energy, and is meant to transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the coast, where a liquefied natural gas project is scheduled for construction.
Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation established the camps with fortified checkpoints, saying Coastal GasLink workers can only pass if they have consent from hereditary leaders.
Chiefs in discussions
The hereditary chiefs spent several hours on Tuesday meeting with the RCMP and among themselves to talk about next steps.
In an open letter posted on the company’s website, Coastal GasLink president Rick Gateman wrote it was “unfortunate the RCMP were forced to take this action.”
“We took legal action as a last resort and only after six years of unsuccessful efforts to find a mutual solution,” the letter reads in part.
“We respect the rights of individuals to peacefully express their point of view, as long as their activities do not disrupt or jeopardize the safety of the public, our employees, our contractors, and even themselves.”