CFN – When representatives of Niagara Gas Transmission Limited (NGTL), an Enbridge company, met on January 20, 2012 with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) to officially mark the presentation of a $1 million cheque, it was the latest step in an ongoing relationship that has developed between the company and this First Nation community near Cornwall, Ontario.
The contribution is part of the Cooperation and Land Use Agreement between the MCA and NGTL, signed in 2009 to benefit the community. The agreement commits NGTL to a one-time infrastructure payment of $1 million and ongoing annual payments of about $100,000 over the next 20 years for the use of land through which an NGTL pipeline runs.
Since the early 1960s, NGTL and Enbridge have safely operated a pipeline, which crosses the St. Lawrence River and Cornwall Island and delivers natural gas to St. Lawrence Gas (an NGTL affiliate) in northern New York State. That pipeline previously crossed the North Channel of the river to Cornwall Island via the North Channel Bridge, owned by Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL). When FBCL announced plans nearly a decade ago to replace this bridge, NGTL and Enbridge began exploring alternative crossing options, which led to negotiations with the MCA. The resulting agreement facilitated the construction of a new subsurface pipeline crossing, installed in late 2011 using horizontal directional drilling.
Lisa Lawler, NGTL’s President, said the negotiations and the resulting agreement demonstrate the commitment by both sides to work together to build a strong and ongoing relationship.
“The relationship between the MCA and NGTL and Enbridge is one that I am extremely proud of,” said Lawler. “Throughout the past decade, we have built a relationship that is as a model of how working together in an open and transparent manner can achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.”
Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell, the MCA Grand Chief, added:
“Akwesasne has been engaged in a process to define and re-define its relationship with external agencies and governments that recognizes our jurisdiction and decision-making authority to determine how our lands will be utilized for the benefit of the Mohawks of Akwesasne.”
During construction of the replacement pipeline crossing, representatives from Enbridge Gas Distribution (EGD), operating on behalf of NGTL, bought materials and rented workspace from local businesses. They also structured contracts that favoured the hiring of Akwesasne workers and contractors to the greatest extent possible. And they worked closely with the MCA’s Department of the Environment on a Harmonized Environmental Assessment Report, which incorporates traditional knowledge into project plans.
Lawler said the agreement provides the foundation for an ongoing relationship with NGTL and Enbridge that will contribute to long-term opportunities. For example, as part of the agreement, the companies have agreed to work with the MCA to conduct a feasibility study on the merits of the community operating a natural gas distribution system in the Akwesasne Territory.
“The benefits come not just because of the agreement’s initial million-dollar infrastructure payment and ongoing annual payments, but through our plans to continue to work together,” explained Lawler.
Pictured above from left: Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne; Lisa Lawler, President, NGTL and Guy Jarvis, President, Enbridge Gas Distribution unite to mark a Cooperation & Land Use Agreement at an official ceremony at the Tri District Elders Lodge, Kawehnoke (Cornwall Island, Akwesasne).