The future of the Malahat LNG project could be on shaky ground after the First Nation elected a new chief with a markedly different attitude toward the proposed plant.
The Malahat Nation reached a deal with Steelhead LNG in August for a proposed LNG facility in the Saanich Inlet that could process up to six-million tonnes of the product per year.
At the time, acting chief Tommy Harry said the nation wanted to pursue economic opportunities after buying a 525-hectare parcel of Malahat-owned land formerly known as Bramberton.
But Caroline Harry, who was elected chief earlier this week, posted criticisms of the proposal on her Facebook page shortly before she was elected.
“When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money,” she wrote. “Power of money creates greed. End it before it ends us. #Team #No #LNG.”
The new chief wasn’t available for an interview Friday, but issued a statement to media.
“As the new chief, I am working hard with council to establish a full understanding of all of the Nation’s operations and opportunities,” she said. “Our council will be working together to develop strategies on how to move forward on all projects with the input and participation of the community.
Steelhead LNG congratulated the new chief and council on their election but declined to comment on the proposed plant, saying the company wanted a chance to meet Harry and the new councillors first.
Members of the Malahat Nation who spoke with CTV News seemed divided on the proposal, with some saying it would provide job opportunities while others said many band members weren’t even aware of the deal with Steelhead LNG before it was announced.
The proposed facility would likely require the construction of a pipeline from the B.C. mainland to supply the natural gas that would then be liquefied and loaded onto tankers.
It would need to undergo thorough environmental assessments, and members of the Malahat Nation would need to be consulted before construction begins.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Robert Buffam