First Nation group says it wasn't properly consulted on Goldboro LNG

UARB convenes hearing; Pieridae challenges jurisdiction

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – Sipekne'katik First Nation claims it wasn’t properly consulted by the Crown regarding Pieridae Energy's application for a permit to construct its planned LNG facility at Goldboro. In response -- and following objections from Pieridae on the UARB's jurisdiction in the matter, and a request from the CEO of the N.S. Office of Aboriginal Affairs to comment -- the UARB has convened a hearing at its Halifax offices for Oct. 15.

In a Sept. 4 letter to the UARB, Chief Michael Sack said, "Sipekne′katik has no records of any conversations with the Crown on any rights or claims the Community may have for this proposed project." He added that the community is "owed deep consultation on this matter."

The board will hear oral submissions on its jurisdiction to inquire into the matter, as well as the issue of whether the duty to consult was satisfied.

In a letter to the three parties on Sept. 12, the board notes that the review of Pieridae’s application for a permit to construct the facility continues on a separate track. That review relates to the safety of Goldboro LNG’s proposed construction and operation.

Pieridae submitted a 10-page letter to the UARB on Sept. 7 in response to the claims of the Mi'kmaq community. In it, the company said the board "does not have the legal authority to inquire into the adequacy of the provincial Crown’s consultations with First Nations."

It also said there are several reasons why the project should not have any adverse affects on the rights of Sipekne'katik First Nation.

"Sipekne’katik First Nation is a community situated in Hants County which is approximately 250 kilometers distance from Guysborough County," the letter states. "It is inconceivable that the construction of the Goldboro LNG Facility could have any adverse impact on the Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Sipekne’katik First Nation."

Pieridae tried to contact the band leadership in 2013 and 2014, the letter said. "The Proponent’s requests were never answered and the Sipekne’katik First Nation has not taken any initiative to contact the Proponent with any questions or concerns."

The company says the First Nation community has another option. "If the Sipekne’katik First Nation believes that it has not been adequately consulted by the provincial Crown, it can seek judicial review of any decision to grant the permit to construct just as it could have sought judicial review of the decision of the Minister of Environment to conditionally approve the environmental assessment," the letter states.

Pieridae concluded the letter by saying additional delays could put the project at risk.

"Thus the continued delay by the Board in rendering its decision on whether to grant a permit to construct the Goldboro LNG Facility may cause irreparable harm to the Proponent," the company said.