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TC Energy evicted from Coastal GasLink site by British Columbia First Nation

TC Energy Corp. subsidiary Coastal Gaslink Pipeline Ltd. has been issued an eviction notice by a British Columbia First Nation that would revoke access to a construction site along the route of a natural gas line that would feed a giant LNG export project on the province's northern coast.

The Calgary, Alberta-based pipeline company said it received a letter Jan. 3 from the Unist'ot'en, a First Nations group known as Dark House, that the group was cancelling an access agreement that it had reached with the company in 2019. The following day an official of the office of Wet'suwet'en First Nation issued the eviction notice, demanding that the company remove its equipment from the area.

"The collective decision to withdraw from the access agreement has been made because the bridge monitoring building constructed adjacent to the west side of the bridge over the Wedzin' Kwa [the Morice River] has been completed," Dark House said in the letter. "As a result, the terms of the access agreement are generally no longer necessary for Dark House."

TC Energy said its personnel found trees felled across a logging road that had provided access to the site, making it unusable.

The actions followed a Dec. 31, 2019, ruling from the Supreme Court of British Columbia that granted an injunction against protests at the site and found Coastal GasLink was legally entitled to advance work on the project. The company said it has so far been unsuccessful in meeting with representatives of Dark House or the Wet'suwet'en to discuss the issue. It did not say what action it planned to take in the wake of the eviction notice. A blockade of the logging road in early 2018 led to the arrest of several protesters.

"Over the past year, Coastal GasLink has repeatedly requested face-to-face meetings with the Unist'ot'en and the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, but these requests have either been ignored or rejected by these groups," the company said in a Jan. 5 statement. "We welcome the opportunity to engage in dialogue to work towards a resolution which avoids enforcement of the injunction."

TC Energy recently agreed to sell a majority stake in the Coastal GasLink project to investment firms KKR & Co. Inc. and Alberta Investment Management Corp. The C$6.6 billion conduit would span 670 kilometers of northern British Columbia to connect shale gas fields in the northeast of the province with the under-construction, Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led LNG Canada Development Inc. terminal project on the Pacific Coast.