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Tahltan Nation signs agreements in support of Northwest Transmission Line

At the signing ceremony in Victoria on Monday were (left to right) BC Hydro Executive Vice President of Transmission and Distribution Greg Reimer,  Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Mary Polak, Tahltan Central Council Chair Annita L. McPhee, Tahltan Band Council Chief Rick McLean and Iskut Band Council Chief Marie Quock.  

 Agreements  to provide Tahltan with economic development funds, jobs, training

VICTORIA – Two agreements signed Monday will provide the Tahltan Nation with economic development funds, jobs, training and skills development during construction of the Northwest Transmission Line (NTL), and a strengthened relationship with the Province of British Columbia that will focus on how decisions are made and future economic opportunities.

The Tahltan Nation and the Province of British Columbia signed a government-to-government agreement regarding the parties’ commitments with respect to the development of the NTL. The agreement provides commitments from the Province of British Columbia to negotiate future agreements related to shared decision-making, economic opportunities through revenue sharing, managing social and cultural changes and planning for energy development associated with the NTL project.

As well, the Tahltan Nation and BC Hydro signed a separate impact benefit agreement that outlines the benefits the Nation will receive and how impacts will be managed.

The signings represent a key step forward for the NTL, following previous impact benefit agreements already signed with the Kitselas and Metlakatla First Nations, the Independent Skii km Lax Ha and the Nisga’a Nation in the past six months. Negotiations with other First Nations in the region continue.

“This is an exciting and pivotal time for our Nation. We are pleased the majority of Tahltans support the agreements our leadership team worked hard to achieve in the best interests of our people and our Nation,” said Annita McPhee, Tribal Chair of the Tahltan Central Council. “The agreements will enable us to foster social, cultural, economic and environmental health within our community.

"It will be a delicate balance to manage economic development and maximize the benefits to our people, while also protecting our culture and way of life and minimizing impacts to our land. But it is a commitment we have made to our people and one that we are confident we can deliver on.”

The agreements were officially signed in Victoria following a ratification vote by Tahltan members between April 12 and 15. Over 1,700 Tahltans registered to vote, of which more than 770 cast ballots, achieving a 45 per cent participation rate and 82 per cent voting in favour of ratification. The vote followed substantial community outreach with Tahltan members by the Tahltan executive to inform members about details of the agreements.

“Today we have strengthened a partnership that sets the stage for economic growth, while respecting culture and tradition,” said Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Mary Polak. “The Framework agreement will help build and maintain a strong government-to-government relationship that will benefit Tahltan communities and families.”

“We have put a great deal of effort into consulting and working with the Tahltan whose traditional territory is impacted by NTL,” added Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman.  “We wanted to ensure this project gave the Tahltan opportunities to benefit from the project while ensuring there was future economic growth in the region for all.”

The benefits agreement with BC Hydro includes a provision that will allow it to assist Tahltan communities in planning and developing energy efficient communities. The Bob Quinn Lake substation is located on Tahltan traditional territory.
   
“BC Hydro is pleased to have concluded a benefits agreement with the Tahltan Nation, following ratification by community members,” said BC Hydro President and CEO Dave Cobb. “We believe this agreement is the first step toward building a sustainable and respectful relationship that will benefit Tahltan members and help foster future economic development opportunities for years to come.”

The NTL will be a 344-kilometre, 287-kilovolt transmission line from Skeena Substation, near Terrace, to Bob Quinn Lake. The project will provide a secure interconnection point for clean energy generation projects and supply clean electricity to support future industrial developments in the area.

The project is part of BC Hydro’s efforts to improve and replace aging infrastructure originally built primarily between 1950 and 1980. Improvements will range from upgrading dams and generating stations, to building entirely new transmission lines linking existing and new substations, and much more.

BC Hydro recently sponsored a utility training camp for Tahltan Nation members in preparation for the project’s construction which is expected to begin this spring.

Learn more about the Northwest Transmission Line.

View the Northwest Transmission Line Project video

About BC Hydro

Fifty years ago, British Columbians turned to BC Hydro to build the clean electricity system they count on to power B.C.'s economy, create jobs in every region, and keep the lights on. Now, BC Hydro is building again for the next 50 years. B.C. continues to grow and so has the need for more electricity.

That’s why BC Hydro is building, renewing, and encouraging conservation to meet today’s needs and those of future generations. In 2011, BC Hydro is celebrating 50 years of providing power for British Columbians, and inviting them to help prepare for the next 50 years.

Learn more about Energy in B.C.

About the Tahltan Nation

The Tahltan Nation includes on and off-reserve Tahltans living in Telegraph Creek, Dease Lake and Iskut, and more than 3,000 people living across the country. Tahltan traditional territory encompasses 11 per cent of British Columbia.

More than 50 per cent of all mineral exploration and mine development in the province takes place in Tahltan traditional territory. Learn more about the Tahltan Central Council.

For updates on the Northwest Transmission line, visit bchydro.com or follow us on twitter: @bchydro.

Contact:

Tribal Chair Annita McPhee                          
Tahltan Central Council                         
(778) 229 1264   

Karen Williams
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
250 387 1460

BC Hydro Media Relations
Direct: 604 928 6468
bchydro.com/media
  

Northwest Transmission Line Project Video (YouTube)