Huu-ay-aht First Nations has become the first British Columbia Nation to approve a co-management development arrangement for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility.

Last Saturday, Huu-ay-aht citizens voted 70% in support for the proposed Sarita LNG Project with Steelhead LNG. The proposed facility, which also received unanimous support of Huu-ay-aht’s ḤawÌ“iiḥ Council (Hereditary Chiefs) and elected Executive Council, could be an economic game-changer for the nation’s of 750 people.

“Our elected leaders have ensured that their voices have been heard and by moving forward united in our vision, we will continue to be a strong resilient nation,” said Tayii ḤawÌ“iÅ‚ Æ›iiÅ¡in (Derek Peters), head hereditary chief for Huu-ay-aht First Nations

The approval marks one of the earliest points in project development at which a First Nation community has voted to approve an LNG export facility or pipeline project in BC.

“This is a first in BC and Canada, and creates a significant degree of certainty early in the project for not only Huu-ay-aht and Steelhead LNG, but also for government, investors and customers,” said Steelhead LNG CEO Nigel Kuzemko.

Huu-ay-aht and Steelhead LNG said they plan to proceed with a co-management relationship to develop the facility on Huu-ay-aht-owned land in their ḥahuułi (traditional territory), on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The Sarita LNG facility is in the preliminary engineering and conceptual design stage.

Canada’s National Energy Board has granted Steelhead LNG four licenses to export in the aggregate of 24 million tonnes of LNG per year for 25 years from Sarita Bay.

The natural gas to supply the facility would be sourced from Canadian producers in northeastern BC and northwestern Alberta, and transported to Steelhead facilities via pipeline.

Last September, Steelhead LNG and Alberta-based Seven Generations Energy announced a development agreement to explore midstream supply chain infrastructure that would link natural gas resources to Steelhead LNG’s proposed LNG export projects.

And last February, Huu-ay-aht citizens approved the purchase of the Sarita Bay lands, owned by Western Forest Products.

In August 2015 Malahat First Nation announced a benefits and lease agreement with Steelhead LNG for the project.