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UPDATED: Deal between Squamish Nation and Woodfibre LNG worth over $1.1 billion

Details of the impact benefit agreement revealed

The impact benefit agreement between the Squamish Nation and Woodfibre LNG is worth more than $1.1 billion.

This figure came to light after Bob Mackin of The Breaker reported the story on Wednesday.

Included in Mackin’s piece was a breakdown of how the cash would be distributed. The Squamish Chief confirmed the figures with a spokesperson from the Nation, which followed up with an announcement regarding the numbers on Thursday.

“Communities are sometimes faced with difficult decisions and it is recognized that this was a difficult decision for many,” said Khelsilem, councillor and spokesperson for Squamish Nation, in a news release.

“Next steps will be holding the proponents accountable for the life of the project and beyond; that includes the construction, operation and eventual decommissioning of Woodfibre LNG. As agreed by the proponents, we will be co-developing management plans for the project and will have our own monitors on the ground to report any non-compliance with environmental, cultural, employment, and training conditions.”

Economic benefits are expected to be structured as follows:

- There will be $225.6 million in cash payments will be made over 40 years. This would average to roughly $4.7 million a year.

As part of this amount, $3 million is expected for cultural and environmental legacies, while $16.1 million is intended for employment opportunities. That would be an estimated 1,600 jobs during construction, as well as 330 jobs during the project’s operation. The cash would help cover — among other things — training, education upgrades. Preferential employment would be given to Squamish Nation members.

- $872.4 million in contracts will be made available to qualified Squamish Nation businesses and Squamish Nation member businesses. The Nation says this figure is the total value of the contracts. The actual profit from the contracts, if any, accruing to Nation or member businesses would be a small fraction of that total.

-Squamish Nation also has an option to buy five per cent of the project.

- Nine parcels of land in the Squamish Valley will be transferred to the band for housing and economic development. The Squamish Nation will also obtain five cultural leases throughout Howe Sound for cultural use. The land totals 422 hectares.

The deal was scrutinized by environmental activist group My Sea to Sky.

“Woodfibre LNG is already receiving extensive tax breaks and subsidies from the provincial government. We want to know how much of this deal between Squamish Nation and Woodfibre LNG is again being subsidized by the provincial government,” said Tracey Saxby, executive director of the organization.

“Given our current climate crisis, we think it is irresponsible of the provincial government to foster development of a new fossil fuel industry that will make it even harder to meet our climate commitments.”

In addition to Woodfibre, this agreement with the Nation also includes the provincial government and FortisBC.

It remains unclear how much money and land each party contributed to the Nation.

Woodfibre, on the other hand, previously painted the deal as a step in the right direction for Indigenous relations.

Byng Giraud, the company's country manager and vice-president of corporate affairs, noted in a statement that the $1.6-billion Woodfibre LNG Project is the first industrial project in Canada to be awarded an environmental certificate by an Indigenous government.

"We believe the Squamish Nation process and the resulting conditions are an important pathway to economic reconciliation," Giraud said after the deal was first announced.

Last week, the Nation voted in a tight 8-6 decision in favour of an impact benefit agreement, a significant milestone in helping Woodfibre LNG's project become operational in Howe Sound.