Raise the Glass celebration well worth the wait:SWCC

The Raise the Glass celebration marked the permanent ban on petroleum and natural gas development in the Sacred Headwaters.

The Raise the Glass celebration held at the B.C. Cafe Dec. 18 marked the permanent ban on petroleum and natural gas development in the area known as the Sacred Headwaters in northwestern B.C.

More than 40 people joined MLA Doug Donaldson and members of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) to celebrate the long-awaited announcement from the B.C. government.

The permanent ban comes on the heels of a four-year moratorium on Royal Dutch Shell’s coal-bed methane exploration.

Excitement and relief flowed through several northern communities as this monumental decision began to sink in, Donaldson said.

“It’s a tremendous victory for all those who worked so hard on this important issue,” Donaldson said.

“Close to eight years ago some Tahltan people raised significant concern, risked arrest and ensured that Shell didn’t fully advance in their plans for development in the area.”

Donaldson noted that as part of the Village of Hazelton council in the mid-2000s he was part of forwarding a resolution to the B.C. government stating development in the Sacred Headwaters was unwanted.

Donaldson added, fishermen, loggers, farmers, and other groups also deserve recognition for their work to pressure the B.C. government.

“It’s a good lesson for government to make sure to consult with First Nations and communities when planning to issue resource development leases,” he said.

The tenure Shell had to conduct coal-bed methane exploration and development was given back to the government, B.C. Energy Minister Rich Coleman said.

“For all intents and purposes it’s a ban on that type of exploration in the Sacred Headwaters,” Coleman said.

“If, 50 years in the future the Tahltan said they were interested in development, I suppose a conversation could be had.”

Development doesn’t seem like a possibility, according to Annita McPhee, Tahltan Central Council president.

“Our people don’t want to see it developed,” McPhee said.

“We look forward to working with B.C. on achieving permanent protection of the Klappan.”

The coal-bed methane, petroleum and natural gas ban is limited to 400,000 hectares around the Sacred Headwaters, also known as the Klappan area of northwestern B.C.

One of the forerunners of activity against development in the Sacred Headwaters was the SWCC, as its staff worked around-the-clock in the weeks leading up to the decision, mostly on phones with B.C. government and industry representatives.

Shannon McPhail, SWCC executive director, is elated and extends gratitude to all who made the ban a reality.

“The B.C. government deserves a lot of credit because this was a big, big decision,” McPhail said.

“That being said, we’ll always hold government and industry accountable.”

When asked what the SWCC plans to do, now that there’s no looming battle with Shell, McPhail laughed, smiled and said.

“We’re gonna celebrate.”

“How often do small communities and local yokels get to say they’ve had a major victory over one of the world’s largest corporations?”

A more formal celebration, in the Hazelton area, regarding the permanent ban is being planned for mid-February by the SWCC.



Just Posted

Fires still burning near Telegraph Creek

BC Wildfire Service assures residents of a proactive plan heading into wildfire season

Northwest entrepreneurs pitch their plans for cash prizes

ThriveNorth announces 12 finalists in this year’s business challenge

CT scanner expected to be up and running by end of June

When tragedy strikes and internal injuries are expected, 30 minutes can make all the difference

Gas prices steady in Smithers

Industry analyst says local retailers not making money, pain yet to come

Verdict scheduled in Giesbrecht murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court justice will render his decision May 24

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Northwest B.C. leaders divided over oil tanker ban

Senate hearings in Prince Rupert and Terrace show Bill C-48 is at a crossroads

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Most Read