A checkpoint is seen at a bridge leading to the Unist’ot’en camp on a remote logging road near Houston, B.C., on January 17, 2019. A natural gas pipeline project has polarized many communities across northern British Columbia in a dispute a Wet’suwet’en elder says he hopes will be resolved through dialogue. Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast. The company has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nation councils along its path, but the hereditary clan chiefs who are leaders under the traditional form of governance say the project has no authority without their consent.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Coastal GasLink stresses pipeline ‘on a schedule’ as B.C. appoints liaison for Wet’suwet’en

670-kilometre pipeline is schedule to be completed by end of 2023

The president of Coastal GasLink said the company wants a peaceful resolution to the conflict around its 670-kilometre pipeline in northern B.C..

Speaking on a call Monday, president David Pfeiffer told reporters that while he wants to work with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the $6.6 billion pipeline, the company is “on a schedule.”

The Coastal GasLink pipeline stretches through the territory of 20 First Nations, all of whose elected chiefs have signed agreements with the company, although Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have said the company has no authority to build without their permission.

The pipeline is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023 and will deliver natural gas to the LNG Canada terminal in Kitimat. It has received all necessary permits and Premier John Horgan has said Coastal GasLink will go ahead. Just after Pfeiffer spoke, the province announced that former Skeena—Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen was appointed as a liaison between the province and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

READ MORE: Move natural gas pipeline, MP suggests

Pfeiffer said the protests along the pipeline route could begin to cause major delays.

Camp 9A, a small camp located at Morice River site, is meant to be replaced by a larger 500-person camp so that Coastal GasLink can begin serious construction work this summer.

However, the Wet’suwet’en have blocked access to the site, despite a court injunction granted by the B.C. Supreme Court on New Year’s Eve.

Pfeiffer says the company has no control about when RCMP will go in to enforce the injunction. On Jan. 13, Mounties created an “exclusion zone” at the 27-kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road. At the time, RCMP said they would allow in Wet’suwet’en hereditary and elected chiefs, governmetn officials, media, and those bringing in food or supplies for people beyond the blockade.

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en evict Coastal GasLink from work site near Houston

READ MORE: RCMP create access control checkpoint on Morice West Forest Service Road

READ MORE: Injunction granted vs. opponents of Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

The route of the pipeline is not up for major changes that could carry it outside of Wet’suwet’en territory, Pfeiffer said. He said it took the company six years of work “to find a route that was both technically and commercially viable and minimized impact to the environment.”

Route changes, both major and minor, have been considered but Pfeiffer said they were technically and environmentally inferior. One route change the company and some hereditary chiefs did agree to was a minor diversion of 40 kilometres to avoid environmentally sensitive areas.

Pfeiffer said the hereditary chiefs have not responded to letters sent by Coastal GasLink thus far, although he is hoping to meet with some of them this week.

“We’re trying to send a message to the hereditary chiefs that we’d like to sit down and talk to them,” he said.

“We want to resolve this peacefully but we do have a schedule and we do have impacts if we can’t get access to that area.”

READ MORE: Coastal GasLink makes new request to meet with First Nation pipeline opponents

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