FILE – Premier John Horgan speaks during a press conference at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

B.C.’s premier isn’t backing down in his support of the Coastal GasLink pipeline even as protesters were arrested in front of the B.C. Legislature earlier on Thursday.

Speaking at his weekly media availability, Premier John Horgan said the conflict over the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline in northern B.C. was “without a doubt” the toughest challenge he’s faced since he took the top job in 2017.

Protests against the pipeline have been ongoing nationwide since early February. Around two dozen people have been arrested in B.C. this week alone, including 14 at a blocked rail line in northern B.C. and six in Vancouver. Two more were arrested at the B.C. Legislature Thursday after they sprayed chalk at the property.

B.C.’s Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser is set to take part in a meeting Thursday between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and Canada’s Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.

Coastal GasLink have agreed to a two-day pause in pipeline construction in the area and RCMP said Thursday they would stop patrolling a service road nearby, effectively stopping all police action in Wet’suwet’en traditional lands.

READ MORE: RCMP reach deal to end police patrols of Wet’suwet’en lands as pipeline work pauses

Horgan said that while he was open to meeting with the hereditary chiefs himself, he felt Fraser was the best voice to have at the table right now.

The premier said the project had “enormous benefits” for B.C.’s economy, citing an expected $23 billion in tax revenue.

“We need to have private sector investment if we’re going to meet the public sector demands for services,” he said.

“Permits have been issued, construction is underway and the [Coastal GasLink] project is proceeding.”

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks

READ MORE: First arrests made at BC Legislature after demonstrators spray chalk on property


@katslepian

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