Indigenous organizations will be bidding on the Trans Mountain pipeline, potentially offering to buy the entire project.
One organization, Project Reconciliation, says that by next week they could be ready to bid for a majority stake in the delayed pipeline project.
“We want to be proactive,” said Stephen Mason, Project Reconciliation managing director.
Project Reconciliation represents 340 indigenous communities in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Project Reconciliation has already presented a plan to buy 51 percent of the pipeline from the government.
In June the government said it welcomed the offer and said they would consider it.
“We welcome the interest from indigenous groups and are launching an engagement process that will actively seek input from indigenous groups in ways that they could benefit now that the project is moving ahead,” a government spokesman said.
“In the coming weeks, we will be announcing a panel of external experts to help lead those discussions.”
Project Reconciliation is not the only indigenous group looking to buy the project. One group, the Iron Coalition, is looking to buy the entire pipeline.
Despite the original positive response from the current owner, the federal government, it will take time before any offer is accepted.
Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi has so far failed to indicate how interested the government really is in these offers.
“We have seen from Indigenous communities that they are interested in having an equity in this project,” he said.
“It is a very important conversation to have because Indigenous communities should be benefiting from economic resource development. This will be an opportunity for us to work with them and explore that option.”
The Trans Mountain pipeline was bought by the federal government for $4.5 billion from Kinder Morgan. After constant delays and court challenges to the project, the government hastily got into the pipeline industry out of fears that Kinder Morgan was going to cancel the project.
The federal government said it would eventually sell the pipeline, but so far they have not produced a timeline for when that will happen.
Despite pressure from radical environmentalist activists, indigenous groups like Project Reconciliation, the Iron Coalition and Indian Resource Council eagerly want to be part of the project. These groups are also concerned that Trans Mountain might never go forward.
“The Indian Resource Council has reached out to Minister Sohi and has been ignored,” Indian Resource Council CEO Stephen Buffalo said.
“The Minister of Finance laughed at me when I said ‘we should talk about this pipeline’. He said ‘there’s no pipeline to talk about.’”
The federal government has emphasized that consultation with indigenous groups is one of their top priorities when it comes to pipelines.
There are now indigenous groups who have a legitimate interest in purchasing the pipeline. Yet the government continues to stall the much needed Trans Mountain pipeline.