PORT HARDY—Environment Minister Terry Lake last week visited North Vancouver Island to tour the construction site of the 99-megawatt Cape Scott Wind Farm project located 40 kilometres west of Port Hardy and to sign agreements between BC Parks and the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations that will foster ecological stewardship and economic development in the nations’ traditional territories.
When operational late this year, the Cape Scott Wind Farm project will power the annual needs of approximately 26,000 homes with clean energy.
“This project is a good news story for northern Vancouver Island,” said Lake. “Our government recognizes the potential of wind to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Wind is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies in the world and B.C. has abundant, untapped, wind power potential.”
The Cape Scott Wind Farm project received an electricity purchase agreement from BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call. Site developer and operator GDF SUEZ Energy North America estimates the $300 million project will create 200 construction jobs during the peak
construction period and have a $25 million economic impact on the area. In addition, 12 permanent operations and maintenance positions are expected to be created at the wind farm.
The project will be powered by 55 1.8-megawatt turbines and occupy a total footprint of 350 hectares. The proponent has an impact benefit agreement with the Quatsino First Nation, Tlatlasikwala First Nation and Kwakiutl Indian Band.
Following the wind farm site tour, Lake and staff from BC Parks joined the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw to sign several agreements and renew the commitment to continue to work together in the management of protected areas.
Over the past five years, BC Parks has worked closely with the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations to develop five Conservancy Management Plans. These management plans outline how conservancies in the Nations’ traditional territories are to be managed. They take into consideration the interests of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations, as well as BC Parks.
The five conservancies included in the conservancy management plans are:
• Cape Caution-Blunden Bay (Ugwiwa’/Cape Caution and Ugwiwa’);
• Deserters Walker (Mahpahkum-Ahkwuna);
• Nekite Estuary (Negi?);
• Smokehouse (Tsa-Latl’); and
• Seymour Estuary (Wawley (W?aw?a?))
An Enhanced Access to Economic Opportunities Agreement was also signed, which helps achieve future economic opportunities for the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations within the conservancies. This agreement includes how permit applications received by BC Parks for commercial activities within the conservancies will be considered; ensuring First Nations economic interests in protected areas are also taken into consideration.
“It is important that we work with government to manage our homelands,” said Chief Paddy Walkus of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations. “These agreements ensure that we will be able to protect these beautiful lands and also be able to pursue sustainable economic development that fits with the co-management plans we jointly developed.”
The agreements are consistent with the Reconciliation Protocol Agreement between Nanwakolas Council and the Province. Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw is a member nation of the Nanwakolas Council.
“We are pleased to continue to help facilitate evolving government to government
relationships between our members and the Province,” said Dallas Smith, Nanwakolas Council president. “Over the last six years we
have been able to get some common land use visions that will lead to much needed economic development in the region.”