A deal has been reached between the Alberta government and a First Nation that had raised environmental concerns around the Teck Resources Frontier project.
In a news release Sunday, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation announced the agreement and expressed “support for approval of the project.”
“After many productive discussions, the Alberta government has responded to our concerns with a comprehensive and meaningful package of action items,” Adam said in the news release.
“I am now confident that this Project is a net benefit to my community and the entire region.”
“The environmental and cultural mitigations agreed to are unprecedented for a project of this kind,” Adam said.
In public letters sent on Feb. 7 to the federal government and to other chiefs, Adam highlighted environmental concerns — ranging from caribou habitat to water issues — saying the government and company had failed to consult the First Nation.
But now, the First Nation hails Teck Frontier as a “model” for how companies planning major projects should move forward in the future.
“Given the recent discussions with the Government of Alberta and their fresh and positive approach, we reconfirm our support of the Project and encourage the Canadian government to approve the Project without further delay,” Allan said.
Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon said Sunday that the government had also secured agreements with the Mikisew Cree First Nation.
“Together these First Nations and Alberta have been able to do what Alberta has always said we can: become true partners in prosperity by developing our resources while protecting the land and culture of our Indigenous people,” Nixon said in a news release.
“To reinforce our commitment to create this wealth responsibly, we have been able to address and sustain bison and caribou habitats, protections for Wood Buffalo National Park, and we have set out a path for cooperative management of the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland and the Ronald Lake Bison Herd,” Nixon said.
Athabasca Chipewyan and the Mikisew Cree are two of 14 First Nations and Metis communities that have signed participation agreements on the Teck mine.
The mine, planned for north of Fort McMurray, Alta., would produce 260,000 barrels of oil a day and about four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year, for more than 40 years. The company said it would employ 7,000 people during construction and 2,500 during operation.
Nixon said Sunday that he was “once again” calling on the federal government to approve the project.
“The opportunity that this project presents for our Indigenous communities, our province and the thousands of jobs it would create cannot be killed for political reasons. This project has played by the rules. It has followed the process. It’s time to get it done.”
The federal government must make a decision on the project by the end of February under the Environmental Assessment Act.
–With files from The Canadian Press