The Squamish Nation celebrated a limited victory yesterday in its fight against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, after the provincial Court of Appeal ruled the B.C. government must reassess its previous approval of the project based on changes to a federal regulatory review.
“In challenges by the Squamish Nation and the City of Vancouver, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled the province’s approval of the certificate was based on the original report from the National Energy Board, which was later quashed by the Federal Court of Appeal,” Global News reports. The federal government reapproved the project based on the NEB’s follow-up review. But the appeals court ruled yesterday that “in light of changes to the original report of the energy board when it reconsidered the project, provincial approval also needs to be reconsidered.”
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“I would not quash the certificate but would remit the matter to the ministers to permit them to reconsider the certificate’s conditions,” wrote Justice Mary Saunders in the unanimous decision.
B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman said the province would take the cue to reconsider how the project can move toward completion, but would not use the court ruling to stop the pipeline, the Squamish Chief reports. “We’re not able to stop the project, he said. “That’s in federal jurisdiction. Only the Federal Court of Appeal can stop this project.”
When the Christy Clark government in B.C. approved the pipeline in January 2017, it “issued a 37-condition environmental assessment certificate for the project. The government did so relying on a so-called equivalency agreement with the NEB that could stand in for a provincial assessment in the interests of efficiency,” the paper adds.
“That approval had adopted conditions recommended in the NEB report on the project,” which the court has now sent back to the provincial Environmental Assessment Office. Heyman said his department would conduct its review with B.C.’s coastline, environment, jobs, and tourism in mind.
“We’re going to take the time to review the conditions within our jurisdiction,” he said. But while the province still believes that “this is a wrong-headed project and bad for British Columbia,” he noted the pipeline doesn’t need a provincial certificate to move forward.
The Squamish Nation still declared a win, calling for a “comprehensive environmental review” in which the province consults “extensively and deeply” with the community.
“Premier Horgan and his government need to set the bar higher and rethink their approach to the TMX Project, and truly respect Indigenous rights by jointly reviewing with the Squamish Nation and other concerned First Nations whose territories would be directly impacted by the pipeline expansion,” said Squamish Nation councillor and spokesperson Khelsilem. “There’s a lot of talk of reconciliation at the provincial level, and this is a critical opportunity for the province to put its words into action.”
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