January 25, 2019 7:45 pm
Updated: January 25, 2019 8:20 pm

B.C. gas pipeline work delayed after animal traps allegedly found on construction site

An RCMP member looks on as representatives from Coastal GasLink proceed through the exclusion zone at the 27 kilometre marker towards the Unist'ot'en camp to remove barriers on a bridge over the Morice River, southwest of Houston, B.C., on Friday, January 11, 2019.


Work on a controversial gas pipeline in northern B.C. was delayed on Thursday after crews allegedly found animal traps set on their construction site.

The work is being conducted near Houston B.C., as a part of the Coastal GasLink pipeline that would stretch from the Peace Region to Kitimat, and which has been the subject of opposition from some local Wet’suwet’en First Nations members.

Coastal GasLink says that on Wednesday, crews arrived at an ancillary site about 17 kilometres from the Morice Bridge to find a number of animal traps in the trees, and signs posted, warning workers that there were traps on the work site.

READ MORE: RCMP lift northern B.C. pipeline blockade, allowing construction to begin again

The company said it had previously notified trappers that work was being done in the area and that the site was off-limits.

WATCH: First Nations anti-pipeline blockade over for now

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The company says on Thursday work was shut down temporarily due to “safety concerns arising from a number of individuals entering an active construction site and the continued placement of traps.”

“Safety is our top priority. Accessing an active construction site where heavy equipment is at work and placing traps in an active construction site poses a threat to our people as well as those on the site unauthorized.”

READ MORE: First Nations, RCMP reach deal in northern B.C. pipeline impasse

In a statement posted to its website, the Unist’ot’en healing camp accused Coastal GasLink of bulldozing its trap lines and destroying its land.

“The destruction of our trap lines is a direct threat to the programming of our Healing Centre and the wellness of our clients. We know from our oral histories that this area, now being destroyed for a CGL man camp, has been used by our trappers for thousands of years.”

WATCH: First Nations anti-pipeline blockade over for now

The RCMP confirmed that it had responded to complaints of possible violations of a court-ordered injunction protecting work in the area.

“Police officers from the Community-Industry Safety Office (C-ISO) that has been set up in the Morice West Forest Service Road corridor as requested by the Hereditary Chiefs, are currently investigating,” said Cpl. Madonna Saunderson in an email.

READ MORE: ‘No consent, no pipeline’: UBCIC President says Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been ignored

The incident comes two weeks after Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs brokered a deal with the RCMP to lift a blockade at the Unist’ot’en healing camp at the Morice Bridge and to abide by the court injunction.

However, the group says that agreement has been violated because the RCMP promised no “interference with our members regarding access to the territory for the purposes of trapping and/or other traditional practices.”

A group of Wet’suwet’en First Nations, headed by the hereditary chiefs, have been fighting the pipeline arguing that they were not adequately consulted and have not consented to it crossing their traditional, unceded territory.

The elected councils of all 20 First Nations bands along the pipeline’s route have signed agreements with Coastal GasLink, but opponents argue that elected councils’ authority is restricted to on-reservation matters, while hereditary chiefs have responsibility for traditional territory.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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