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Alberta

ONE RELATIONSHIP AT A TIME:  THE PATH TO PROJECT SUCCESS

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ONE RELATIONSHIP AT A TIME:  THE PATH TO PROJECT SUCCESS

Infrastructure development is full of risks, which are managed in a number of ways. Risk management might sound cold and impersonal, but it has the potential to incent real human connections and build genuine relationships. Key risks may have leading practice on how best to mitigate, transfer, ignore or hold those risks, but when it comes to energy development across Canada, meaningful consultation and accommodation is non- negotiable. As most are well aware at this point, the Crown must consult and accommodate where Aboriginal or Treaty rights are impacted. Far from being a mandatory ‘checkbox’ in the process of project development, the undertaking of engagement and relationship-building holds the potential for mutual benefits for both the project and the impacted First Nations, Inuit, or Métis community.

Genuine relationship-building is a solid foundation for partnership on energy projects, to the benefit of both parties. This partnership can take the form of Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA) Mutual Benefit Agreements (MBA) or equity participation arrangements, among others. Both IBAs and equity arrangements have the potential to grow economic and social prosperity, but determining which approach is the best fit will be influenced by the priorities and capacity of both the developer and the Indigenous community.

In both these common approaches there are similar objectives:

  • Compensation for and mitigation of potential impact
  • Influence or control over project design and development
  • Securing benefits for the community
  • Securing social license
  • Working towards consent and support of the project
  • Reduced risk of opposition or disruption
  • Improved financing as a result of managed risks

Both also reflect an underlying premise that it is no longer acceptable to develop resources or energy infrastructure in a manner where impacts fall to one party, and benefits to the other.

When comparing and contrasting IBAs and equity arrangements, some key considerations are the degree of potential impact, the capacity and interest of the community in the project’s development and management, the project’s term, risk tolerance of either party, and financing and funding opportunities.

Impact Benefit Agreements between a project developer and impacted Indigenous community formalize project benefits sharing. Often, these IBAs will provide some employment, training, and contracting opportunities, but the economic benefits will often be tied to the project’s degree of impact to traditional lands and lifestyle (e.g., land impacts, hunting and gathering impacts, etc.). Regardless of how well the project is performing, the IBAs will guarantee a steady revenue stream to the Indigenous community. This can be a safe bet for risk adverse councils but holds the potential for serious revenue inequity in the case where the project is successful and very profitable.

Pivoting from partnership to ownership, equity participation agreements clearly scale the revenue sharing between the project developer and community as the project success and profitability increases. If the energy project does well, the First Nation, Inuit, or Métis equity partner is also going to do well and see greater revenues. The inverse is also true. In these equity arrangements, which are becoming more prevalent in the eastern provinces, the Indigenous partner has a greater say in project operations, as they are a shareholder. It also arguably provides more security to the developers, as the Indigenous partner is a proponent of the project, and no longer a potential opponent. Both partners would look to maximize the economic benefits of the project, while minimizing the adverse economic, environmental and social consequences flowing from the project. Without focusing too much on the direct revenue arrangement, equity arrangements will often also include guaranteed or preferential opportunities for contracting, procurement, employment and training.

To be clear, in either an IBA or equity arrangement model, the duty to consult and accommodate is neither negated nor automatically fulfilled. But the relationship between developer and community becomes formalized and clearer, adding transparency and certainty to an otherwise risk-filled process.

Managing project risk is a mandatory part of project development. But the means of managing risk holds so much potential for empowerment, leadership, and benefit. Project success and economic development are not an end in themselves, but rather a means to an end – the end being healthier and more prosperous First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and Canada as a whole. All the while moving the dial on reconciliation through real connections, business developments, and cultural education – one relationship at a time.

Robyn Budd was a 2019 member of the Energy Council of Canada’s Young Energy Professionals program and was a Manager in KPMG’s Global Infrastructure Advisory practice, based in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations (Vancouver). She was also the Leader of KPMG’s National Indigenous Network.

Zachary McCue is Founder of The Waabgaag Group, with expertise in renewable, infrastructure, and resource development, specializing in equity participation and impact benefit agreements. He is a proud member of Curve Lake First Nation and is based in Ontario.

Thanks to Todayville for helping us bring our members’ stories of collaboration and innovation to the public.

Click to read a foreward from JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Click to read comments about this series from Jacob Irving, President of the Energy Council of Canada.

Jacob Irving, President of Energy Council of Canada

The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual initiative by the Energy Council of Canada to provide an opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration and discussion on current topics in Canada’s energy sector.  The 2020 Canadian Energy Compendium: Innovations in Energy Efficiency is due to be released November 2020.

 

Click to read more stories from this series.

Read more on Todayville.

INDIGENOUS CONSULTATION AND ENGAGEMENT AT CANADA’S ENERGY AND UTILITY REGULATORS

The Energy Council of Canada brings together a diverse body of members, including voices from all energy industries, associations, and levels of government within Canada. We foster dialogue, strategic thinking, collaboration, and action by bringing together senior energy executives from all industries in the public and private sectors to address national, continental, and international energy issues.

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Alberta

‘Dealing with a lot:’ Suicide crisis calls mount during COVID-19 pandemic

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CALGARY — Hannah Storrs has needed to take more breaks than usual during her shifts on a 24-hour crisis line as the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the struggles of those reaching out for help. 

Distress Centre Calgary says suicide-related calls, texts and chats were up 66 per cent in October compared with the same month in 2019.

Of the more than 4,800 interactions last month, nearly one-quarter dealt with suicide. That could mean someone contemplating ending his or her life or an attempt in progress. 

“We’re seeing it more back-to-back rather than the odd one here and there that is more intense,” says Storrs, the centre’s crisis team lead.

“People are dealing with a lot right now. They’re dealing with isolation. They’re dealing with mental health issues. They’re dealing with financial issues on top of being just scared of what can happen in the world.”

Storrs says calls, where there is an imminent risk, are in the minority and emergency services are only called in rare cases. Most often she and her colleagues help people develop a plan that will get them through the moment. 

The work is more emotionally draining now than it was before the pandemic, she says. She makes sure to take breaks to calm herself after tough calls — something the centre encourages along with extra debriefing time. 

“We can’t help other people if we’re not helping ourselves first, especially being on the lines.”

She says she didn’t realize it was taking a toll until she found herself feeling frustrated and ruminating about calls after work, wondering what more she could have done to help. 

It has also been physically exhausting.

“Honestly, after a shift, I would just have to go take a nap. I’d be tired.”

Diane Jones Konihowski, the distress centre’s director of fund development and communications, says suicide-related calls were also rising over the summer, which was a concern because it was still nice outside.

“We assume that those numbers and percentages are going to go up as we get into — 20 C, we get into the ice and snow, where people are really not going out as much as they normally do.”

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service, a national network of crisis lines, says there’s been a 200 per cent increase in calls and texts between October 2019 and the same month this year.

People in crisis call a centralized line, which routes them to a distress centre in their community.

While volumes have gone up, there has not been a parallel rise in “active rescues” that require emergency intervention, says Dr. Allison Crawford, the service’s chief medical officer.

The service has added backup responders to deal with the surge, added Crawford, who is also a psychiatrist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. 

Between 15 and 20 per cent of those reaching out during the pandemic have mentioned COVID-19, though the service doesn’t keep track of more specific virus-related contacts. 

Crawford says that is likely to mirror the results of a series of surveys the Toronto-based centre and technology company Delvinia have done throughout the pandemic. 

The most recent one with more than 1,000 respondents in September found about one-fifth were experiencing moderate to severe anxiety, loneliness and depression. 

Eighteen per cent said they were very worried about their finances and 26 per cent said they were very worried about contracting COVID-19, or someone close to them getting sick. 

Research has shown that historically there’s a link between economic downturns and increased suicides, Crawford says.

But it’s too soon to know the toll the pandemic and its associated economic strife have taken. 

“We know that we’re seeing this increase in calls. We don’t yet know whether we’re experiencing an increase in actual completed suicides. There’s no evidence to this point to suggest that.”

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: Online crisisservicescanada.ca. Phone 1-833 456-4566. Text — 45645 (4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET)

Distress Centre Calgary: Online distresscentre.com. Phone 403-266-HELP (4357)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec 3, 2020.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta strikes team to roll out COVID-19 vaccine in three phases starting in January

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EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta expects to start getting COVID-19 vaccines in the first week of January, and high-risk patients and health workers will get them first.

Kenney says the province has struck an inter-departmental team to roll out the vaccines from 30 different locations.

“Alberta is well prepared to receive, distribute and administer a vaccine as soon as doses arrive,” Kenney told reporters Wednesday.

“This is evidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we can see this critical juncture when we will get past the terrible damage that COVID-19 has caused for our society.”

Alberta continues to lead Canada in per-capita rates of COVID-19, with 1,685 new cases announced Wednesday for a total active count of 17,144 infections.

There are 504 people in hospital, with 97 of them in intensive care. There were also 10 more deaths. In total, 561 Albertans have died from the virus.

The health system is working to free up more ICU beds and, in an unusual step, COVID-19 patients are being double-bunked rather than being kept in isolation at Edmonton’s University of Alberta Hospital.

Kenney said the vaccine group will be headed by senior civil servant Paul Wynnyk to plan the rollout.

“We have been assured by the federal government that shipments will begin to arrive by Jan. 4 and continue to arrive in waves throughout the early part of next year,” said Kenney.

The doses are to be distributed at 30 depots across the province. Kenney said the Moderna one needs to be kept cold and the Pfizer version needs to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, so special freezers and transports are being ordered.

Both vaccines, he said, need to be administered in two doses three to six weeks apart.

Officials expect to vaccinate 435,000 Albertans, or about 10 per cent of the population, in the first few months of 2021, with a focus on long-term and other care residents as well as health-care workers.

The second phase would run in late spring and aim to have one-third of the rest of the population immunized. Wynnyk’s team would determine the priority recipients in this phase.

The final phase, when the rest of Albertans get vaccinated, is pegged to begin next summer.

“That means it will be months before vaccine is available to the general population,” said Kenney.

“This is the unfortunate reality.

“Obviously the risk of hospitalizations and COVID-19 fatalities will decline significantly once we’re able to vaccinate the most vulnerable.

“But let’s be clear: all of us will have to continue following public-health guidelines even after the first wave of vaccinations have occurred.”

Albertans are currently banned from having extended gatherings in homes beyond those who live under the same roof. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.

There is also a range of health restrictions for everything from places of worship to schools, businesses, retailers, bars and restaurants aimed at keeping as much of the economy open as possible while bending the curve on the pandemic.

Critics, including the Opposition NDP and some physicians and infectious disease specialists, say skyrocketing case numbers show the restrictions are not enough and the long-term health of both people and the economy is at risk.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro confirmed media reports that the province has asked the Canadian Red Cross and the federal government for field hospitals to help with the case surge.

Shandro said the request is part of long-term and prudent contingency planning.

“This (tent scenario) is not something that’s in our current plans to increase our acute-care bed capacity,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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