The company proposing the pipeline near Houston, BC responded to the police enforcement at the Gidimt’en checkpoint on Monday.
Coastal GasLink (CGL) President Rick Gateman has written an open letter to affected First Nations and the province, stating CGL’s court injunction was a ‘last resort’ after going six years without a ‘mutual solution.’
More than a dozen people were arrested at the Morice River Bridge on ‘various offences’ according to RCMP, after they dismantled the fortified gate campers set up to block anyone from getting through.
In Gateman’s statement, CGL wants the public road to travel to the pipeline, said to be built one kilometre away from the Bulkley Valley campsite.
“Construction and pre-construction will not impact the camp,” explained Gateman.
“In fact, the camp can continue with its activities. Our pipeline right of way isn’t near the camp, and does not overlap or directly affect it.”
He added the impasse at the bridge was action the company didn’t want and that environmental protection as always been a priority.
Gateman’s full statement:
At Coastal GasLink, our teams take great pride in the work they do. We have committed the past six years to creating a pipeline project that balances economic development with environmental protection. Like you, many of our people live and work in this province. We have committed thousands of hours to listening and engaging with communities and First Nations on this project. It’s the reason we have received such strong support for this project.
I want to personally express my gratitude to those who have supported us through this project process. The outcome of the impasse at the Morice Bridge River crossing is not one we wanted. Instead, we have always strived to have an open, honest conversation about how to resolve this issue. It’s unfortunate that RCMP were forced to take this action to ensure the re-establishment of lawful access to this public bridge and road that leads to our pipeline right of way.
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. There is nothing more important to us than that. Our only goal was and is access to the bridge and public road so our teams can travel to our pipeline right of way one kilometre away from the camp. Construction and pre-construction will not impact the camp. In fact, the camp can continue with its activities. Our pipeline right of way isn’t near the camp, and does not overlap or directly affect it.
We took legal action as a last resort and only after six years of unsuccessful efforts to find a mutual solution. We remain committed to keeping the lines of communication open.
It has been a long, and sometimes difficult journey but we are proud of the relationships we’ve built, and the support of the communities and all 20 elected Indigenous bands along the route as well as the many hereditary chiefs who also support the project.
This pipeline will not only meet rigorous environmental standards; it will bring significant benefits including an estimated 2,500 construction jobs. Many of those jobs are with First Nations contractors who are eager to begin work. Coastal GasLink has awarded $620 million in contract work to Indigenous businesses for the project’s right-of-way clearing, medical, security and camp management needs, with another anticipated $400 million in additional contract and employment opportunities for Indigenous and local B.C. communities during pipeline construction.
On behalf of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline team, I would like to say thank you to those who have worked tirelessly with us toward achieving our common goals.
I want to reassure you that we are committed to this project and to this province. We are ready to move forward with construction on this pipeline, and ultimately with helping to build a better future for B.C.
Rick Gateman, Coastal GasLink President