Supreme Court dismisses First Nations’ challenge against Trans Mountain Pipeline

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Today (July 2) the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and Coldwater Band’s application for leave to appeal the February 4, 2020 Federal Court of Appeal decision Coldwater First Nation v. Canada (Coldwater decision).

As the challenge was in Canada’s Supreme Court, the decision marks the end of the groups’ legal opposition. The February 4, 2020 decision determined that that cabinet’s approval of the pipeline project in June 2019 was reasonable under law.

Ian Anderson, President and CEO of Trans Mountain Corp., commented: “We are pleased with the Court’s decision to dismiss these applications and uphold the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision. Following the Federal Government’s second approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and many years of consultation and regulatory reviews, we are pleased to continue building this nationally important project.”

The Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project runs from Edmonton, Alberta, to the Westridge Marine Terminal and the Chevron refinery (now Parkland Refining (B.C.) Ltd.) in Burnaby, British Columbia. It will twin an existing oil pipeline that was built in 1953. This will increase the pipeline’s capacity to 890,000 barrels per day from 300,000 barrels.

The project also expands the Westridge Marine Terminal by adding two berths. It increases the number of tankers that the terminal can handle per month to 34 from five. It will follow existing rights of way for 89% of its 1,147-kilometre length. Construction is expected to be completed mid to late 2022.

The Government of Canada has a 100% interest in the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline and the expansion project.

As of September 30, 2019, Trans Mountain Corporation (TMC) and its contractors have hired more than 2,200 people for the project, including Indigenous, local and regional employees. This workforce includes heavy equipment operators, trades people, environment and safety compliance roles, engineers, construction managers and administration staff.

At peak construction, there are expected to be 5,500 people employed in the construction of the pipeline on sites in Alberta and British Columbia.

TMX will also create economic benefits for many Indigenous communities, such as through contracting, financial compensation, and employment and training opportunities.

“The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) strongly disagrees with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to dismiss this application and deny Indigenous Nations their right to free, prior, and informed consent,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC. “The Crown has failed to adequately consult with Indigenous peoples on the TMX project, and the court has today failed to hold the Crown accountable to its constitutional duties.”

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