Money not the biggest roadblock for bands looking to purchase stake in Trans Mountain

By James Peters
July 27, 2018 - 11:45am

KAMLOOPS — The chief of the Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band says money is not the biggest barrier for bands looking to purchase an interest in the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The Canadian government announced intentions to purchase the pipeline earlier this year after Kinder Morgan expressed uncertainty that it could go forward with a multi-billion dollar expansion project.

When a July 22 deadline to find a new buyer passed, Ottawa is in line to become the official owner.

But supporting First Nations have also spoken about finding a way to gain a controlling stake in the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline and help ensure the expansion takes place.

Chief Mike LeBourdais says when the Trudeau government stepped in to try to safeguard the future of the expansion, several bands saw a chance to build on that.

"We saw an opportunity to put a bunch of bands together and approach some investors. We've talked to (Finance Minister Bill) Morneau, we've talked to Alberta, we've talked to the shippers," said LeBourdais. "There is a keen interest and there is a model that we're putting forward to try to purchase 51 per cent."

LeBourdais says investors are lining up to help, including one of Canada's big six banks.

"They've expressed an interest in how to do it, and also demonstrated a model. There was interest from another Canadian bank and now we're getting interest from New York investment firms," said LeBourdais.

"So money is not really the issue; it's how you structure the deal with a coalition of 43 or 50 bands."

LeBourdais says it is a lot of work to get dozens of bands on the same page, but he's optimistic that will happen.

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