GOLDBORO: The liquefied natural gas project proposed for Goldboro has hit a snag.

Late last month, Pieridae Energy Ltd. completed a merger with Alberta-based natural gas producer Ikkuma Resources Corp. securing a gas supply that would feedstock the Goldboro LNG. This was a move which Pieridae Energy’s Vice President of Business Development, Mark Brown said was a key step to a final investment decision on the proposed $10-billion project.

However, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) have issued a notice of public hearing for Pieridae’s proposed liquefied natural gas facility. The public hearing will receive oral submissions in respect to the board’s jurisdiction to consider the fulfillment of the Crown’s duty to consult the Sipekne’katik First Nation respecting Pieridae’s application for a permit to construct. The hearing will be open to the public and take place in Halifax on Monday, Oct. 15 at 9:00 a.m. at the UARB office, located on the third floor of 1601 Lower Water Street.

Earlier this year, the UARB was advised by the Sipekne’katik First Nations they hadn’t been consulted as required under federal law. In filings Chief Michael Sack acknowledged the Crown and company may have spoke with the Kwilmu’ku Maw-klusuaqn negotiating office, also known as the Mi’kmaw Rights Initiative, however the organization doesn’t represent Sipekne’katik.

The Sipekne’katik First Nations quit working with the Kwilmu’ku Maw-klusuaqn negotiating office in 2013. The negotiating represents only 11 of the 13 First Nations in the province now, which means the provincial and federal governments need to negotiate with three bodies rather than one.

Representatives from Pieridae Energy couldn’t be reached but in a filing, the company claims twice it tried to contact the Sipekne’katik First Nations but had been ignored.

The company also said in the filing any delay beyond September 28, could cause irreparable harm to the project.

“Thus, the continued delay by the board in rendering its decision on whether to grant a permit to construct the Goldboro LNG facility may cause irreparable harm to the proponent,” the filing read.

Additionally, the document stated it is inconceivable that the treaty rights of a First Nation 250-kilometres away could be impacted by the development.

Chief Sack, who was also unavailable for comment, noted in a filing the entire province of Nova Scotia is traditional Mi’kmaq territory.

Warden of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough Vernon Pitts said he still remains very optimistic about the project despite the recent UARB hearing decision.

“That proposed project never ceases to amaze me, it’s just unbelievable the progress made to date,” he said. “The UARB hearing is just another hurdle along the racetrack, and I fully expect they’ll clear that hurdle by significant length.”

Pitts highlighted how significant this project actually is for the region, calling it the biggest private sector project in the history of Nova Scotia.

“Within the first year, we’re going to be looking at approximately 4,000 people as an increase in our population, and that’s just work force,” he said. “It’s going to have a very significant impact in regards to our housing and traffic, but we have all these people fully engaged.”

Pitts said he has been looking forward to this project for a long time and he thinks the project is going to be a positive thing not only for the municipality but also the province and the country.

“We have to rely on be it the federal government or the province that they have these regulations in place, they enforce them, [and] they issue the permits – I’ll put my eggs in the province or the federal government’s basket any day,” he said. “They’re there to look after us, and I have to go along with that until I see something different, which I haven’t to date. Going through this process we have to trust somebody.”