The Squamish Nation in British Columbia has signed off on a billion dollar land deal that will pave the way for construction of a liquified natural gas facility just outside Vancouver.
Not everyone is happy with the deal.
On the Squamish reserve, Elders from the community get together for weekly meetings.
That’s where 86 year old Elder Robert Daniel Baker-Kiyowil is speaking out.
He’s not happy with the LNG facility in his back yard.
“It’s pretty dangerous for it being that close you know if that thing ever goes up there would be no more people living here,” he said.
“Money don’t mean nothing to us the land is our land we were here a long, long time ago.”
Squamish is located on the Howe Sound and surround by towering mountains.
It used to be plagued by industrial pollution because of mines in the area.
Since the mines closed down, pods of Orca whales have returned.
In 2016 LNG approached the community to ask about converting a former pulp mill into a liquified natural gas facility.
Once completed, two tankers would carry the liquid gas to Asian markets.
The project was approved by the Squamish Nation and the B.C. government in March after a $1.1 billion deal was struck.
Orene Askew, a Squamish Nation council member, says she understands there are concerns but is confident in the deal.
“We are going to make sure that LNG and B.C. Hydro and the province are all committing to what they said they are going to do and they do it in a proper manner,” said Askew.
Another part of the land deal is the return of nine parcels of land to the Squamish Nation including part of the Murrin Provincial Park.
It features a lake, a dense forest with hiking trails and cliffs popular with rock climbing enthusiasts.
The rock climbers aren’t happy with the deal and sent a letter to the Squamish council.
“Had climbers been consulted, it is likely that a lobbying effort would have been made to request Pet Wall’s exclusion from the transfer parcel and addition to the provincial park,” the letter says in part.
Squamish Nation members say the climbers don’t need to be consulted.
“I think people just need to understand that it already used to belong to us so I think its moving forward in a good way to receive our land back,” said Askew.
Askew said the Nation doesn’t have any plans to develop the former park area.