A camp was set up on Lelu Island in August 2015 to protest industrial development in the area. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Port authority imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

Following Pacific Northwest LNG, there will be no future projects proposed near Flora Bank

There will be no industrial development in the marine area next to Lelu Island.

On Thursday, Jan. 17, the Prince Rupert Port Authority announced it’s placing a developmental moratorium on Flora, Agnew and Horsey Banks to ensure the protection of marine habitat.

Lelu Island and Flora Bank were the controversial locations of the Pacific Northwest LNG project, which was cancelled in July 2017. Many Indigenous people, environmentalists, and the local politicians opposed development on this site, which was near juvenile salmon habitat.

Although, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s assessment found the liquefied natural gas project could have been built without ‘significant adverse environmental affects’, leading the federal government to approve the project in September 2016.

In the port’s press release it states that the project was complex, involving a 3 km suspension bridge to avoid the environmentally sensitive areas. Three months after the project was cancelled, more than 100 people travelled to Lelu Island to witness a totem pole being raised. Members of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe claimed the territory as their own, and intended to protect the site from future development.

Since then, the port has recognized that development in this area will be a challenge, stating that “there are lingering concerns and uncertainty” with regards to how an industrial project would risk the health to the Skeena River estuary and salmon populations.

“We recognize the importance that a healthy salmon population has to our communities, in particular First Nations, and we share this value,” said Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, in the press release. “We know that this site has both challenges and concerns with development and there are superior development sites available for future projects at the Port of Prince Rupert that are broadly supported by our stakeholders.”

Hereditary and elected leaders from Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams were involved in the discussions to impose the developmental moratorium.

“The hereditary leaders of the Gitwilgyoots tribe of Lax Kw’alaams welcome the moratorium on industrial development on Flora, Horsey and Agnew Banks,” said Wii Smooygit Lyoon’anns (Carl Sampson Sr.). “The decision signifies a recognition of the concerns raised in regard to potential environmental impacts that port development could have in the area.”

Harold Leighton, chief councillor for the Metlakatla First Nation, said “This moratorium is a positive step toward ensuring the sustainability of this vital resource.”

The port authority said the moratorium will be formalized in its Land Use Management Plan in 2019, which will include public consultation.

To report a typo, email: [email protected].


Shannon Lough | Editor
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