The Cheam First Nation says it is interested in owning a piece of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The community – located just east of Chilliwack, B.C. along the planned pipeline expansion route – received $1 million for signing a mutual benefit agreement with Kinder Morgan this month, but Chief Ernie Crey said Cheam owning part of the pipeline also might make sense.
“At this stage we’re very interested in it,” Crey told BNN Bloomberg Wednesday. “The door was opened when the finance minister made a public announcement a number of days back. That might be an option for us.”
Whether the Cheam bid for a stake in the pipeline or not, Crey said he doesn’t see the payout as a participation prize and the community could benefit from becoming involved in the pipeline’s construction.
“It’s not, as some critics have suggested, simply participating in the construction of the pipeline and then being patted on the head and [saying]: ‘Well, thank you very much, chief, to you and your community. See you later,’” Crey said.
“No, we see the construction of this pipeline as a springboard. An opportunity to take our earnings, amplify our earnings through our own enterprises and businesses so that they can go forward, providing employment for our community members, really, in perpetuity.”
Still, Crey noted that not everyone in the Cheam First Nation is thrilled with the expansion cutting through its land.
“We’re like any other community along the pipeline route, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous. There are people in communities that are troubled at the prospect of construction of the new pipeline. We understand that.”