LNG talk attracts record crowd

A presentation by Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Steelhead LNG attracted a record number of people to the October Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce networking dinner on Wednesday night.

Close to 100 people from the business community gathered at Boston Pizza to learn more about both the partnership between Huu-ay-aht and Steelhead and the proposed LNG facility in Sarita Bay.

The presentation on the proposed project started with an introduction from Elected Chief Councillor Jeff Cook on the relationship between the two parties and why Huu-ay-aht is interested in developing an LNG facility in Sarita Bay. He explained that it is important to both parties that the beliefs and values of Huu-ay-aht citizens are respected.

He also stressed how unique and important the partnership with Steelhead is, as Huu-ay-aht has been involved in the process from the beginning.

Huu-ay-aht Councillor John Jack outlined the timeline of the project. He stressed that the proposed project is still in the early stages and would move forward once Huu-ay-aht citizens give their approval. The proposed project would also be subject to certain environmental assessment and other regulatory approvals. If it is approved, the facility could be operational in eight years, with construction beginning in four years.

After Huu-ay-aht Executive Director James Edwards gave an overview of the upcoming Premier’s trade mission to India, Steelhead CEO Nigel Kuzemko explained  who Steelhead is and the role it plays in the development of the proposed project. He also gave the business community a brief explanation of LNG and its value chain.

Nigel Kuzemko also discussed the benefits of the Sarita Bay location, the importance of the relationship with Huu-ay-aht, the types of studies that would be conducted and the potential jobs in the Alberni Valley.

This was the first time that a members of the public had an opportunity to hear directly from Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Steelhead LNG on the proposed project. Generally the presentation was met with support and encouragement.

The next Community Engagement Sessions for citizens take place on Tuesday October 14 in Port Alberni at the Best Western Barclay from 4 to 7 p.m., and on Wednesday, October 15 in Anacla. The Anacla sessions will include an afternoon session for citizens from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Anacla Government Office and an evening session for residents of Bamfield from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the House of Huu-ay-aht. The Vancouver session is on October 16 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society. Two sessions have been added this month in Nanaimo and Victoria. Nanaimo will be on October 27 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., and in Victoria on October 28 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The venues for these two sessions is still being determined. Watch the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Facebook page for updates.