BLANK SPACER

VIDEO: Federal appeals court approves six First Nations challenges of Trans Mountain pipeline

Environmental challenges were dismissed, disappointing those groups

The Federal Court of Appeals has ruled that six of 12 legal challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion can go ahead.

Wednesday’s ruling will allow groups to appeal the second phase of the expansion, which the federal government approved for the second time in June.

Concerns raised about the pipeline include inadequate environmental protections and some First Nations’ beliefs that Ottawa had predetermined the outcome before entering into discussion.

The federal government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion in 2018.

The appeals court said the challenges would proceed on a “highly expedited schedule.”

The First Nations that were granted leave to appeal are the Upper Nicola Band; the Tsleil-Waututh Nation; the Squamish Nation; the Coldwater Indian Band; Chief Ron Ignace and Chief Rosanne Casimir, on their own behalf and on behalf of all other members of the Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc of the Secwepemc Nation; and Aitchelitz, Skowkale, Shxwhá:y Village, Soowahlie, Squiala First Nation, Tzeachten, Yakweakwioose.

The court said the approved challenges are limited to the “narrow issue of the adequacy of the Government of Canada’s further consultation with Indigenous peoples and First Nations between August 30, 2018 and June 18, 2019 and related issues.”

READ MORE: Canada’s bias meant improper consultations: First Nations challenging pipeline

The court said the decision to allow challenges based on First Nations consultations to proceed was made even after giving Ottawa “leeway” in its talks with the nations, as well as giving a high level of defence to the government’s right to approve the pipeline.

“Compliance with the duty to consult is not measured by a standard of perfection,” wrote Justice David Stratas in his reasons.

The appeals court first struck down Ottawa’s approval of the pipeline expansion in August, citing the National Energy Board’s failure to consider marine impacts and inadequate First Nations consultation.

The board re-approved the pipeline earlier this year, and the Trudeau government made the decision to proceed with the project on June 18.

In appeals that followed, First Nations said Canada again did not meaningfully consult with them.

Stratas wrote that the First Nations considered the further consultations rushed and as “window-dressing, box-ticking and nice-sounding words, not the hard work of taking on board their concerns, exploring possible solutions, and collaborating to get to a better place.”

He said the environmental challenges were denied because they were either the same as ones made in last August’s appeal, or ones that could and should have been made at that time. The court does not rehear old arguments.

Environmental concerns about the impact of increased marine traffic were dismissed because the National Energy Board’s “comprehensive, detail-laden, 678-page report” was found to have satisfied that requirement.

Environmental groups said they were disappointed with the decision.

“We remain committed to protecting the southern resident killer whales, fighting climate change, and holding Cabinet to account, and we will review our legal option in the coming weeks,” a statement from Ecojustice, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Living Oceans Society said. “Given the urgency of this situation, we will not rule out taking our fight to the Supreme Court of Canada.”

The six parties granted leave to appeal must file notices of application for judicial review within seven days.

READ MORE: Environmental groups challenge Trans Mountain, citing killer whale concerns

READ MORE: Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley Community Foundation hands out record amount of grant money

The Comox Community Centre the foundation handed out $330,000 to local organizations Tuesday.

Comox Valley school district planning Climate Action Conference for students

The voices of Comox Valley youth on the topic of climate change… Continue reading

Funder for Down Under in Courtenay raises thousands for Australia

Organizers still tallying up proceeds but expect to donate at least $8,000

Fourteen Comox Valley kids get bikes through Share the Ride

Several businesses combine efforts to get bikes and other cycling gear

Comox Valley artist’s mask heading to prestigious U.S. museum

John and Peggy Varnedoe purchased the piece and have donated it to the Burke Museum in Seattle.

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Thieves are targetting Comox Valley strata storage units

Criminals in the Comox Valley have been targeting storage units at condominium… Continue reading

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Most Read