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

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Lego League provincial champions

Smithers’ Marley and Amelie are B.C. Lego League champions, and are fundraising to compete in Texas.

TSKLH Nation sues Province over Brucejack mine revenue sharing

The Tsetsaut/Skii km Lax Ha seeks to assert rights and title in the area around Pretivm gold mine.

Coastal GasLink prepares sites of construction work camps

Unist’ot’en condemn 14 ‘man camps’ housing 500-800 workers as threatening safety of women and children

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Flying squirrels found to glow pink in the dark, including two from B.C.

Squirrels from Hope and Abbotsford were included in the biologists’ database

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Most Read