B.C.’s Court of Appeal is hearing a reference case that asks whether the province can create a permitting system for transporters of hazardous substances through its territory. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Trans Mountain court hearing: B.C. says it won’t reject pipelines without cause

Canada says the proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act must be struck down

A lawyer representing British Columbia says proposed changes to an environmental law won’t allow the province to refuse to provide a permit to a pipeline operator for no reason.

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is hearing a reference case that asks whether the province can create a permitting system for transporters of hazardous substances through its territory.

The governments of Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan say Ottawa — not provinces — has jurisdiction over inter-provincial projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Canada says in court documents that the proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act must be struck down because they give the province a “veto” over such projects.

Joseph Arvay, a lawyer for B.C., says the amendments only allow the province to refuse to issue a permit or revoke one in cases where the operator fails to follow conditions imposed upon it.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline work destroyed salmon habitat: scientist

He adds that if the operator finds the conditions too onerous, it can appeal to the independent Environmental Appeal Board, or in the case of Trans Mountain, the National Energy Board.

The energy board has set up a process where Trans Mountain Corp. can argue that a condition is too burdensome and violates the special status of inter-provincial projects, he says.

“The NEB effectively gets the last word … but it’s going to be condition by condition, law by law,” Arvay told a panel of five judges on Tuesday.

Arvay says the law would be unconstitutional if it declared an absolute prohibition on pipelines in B.C., but the amendments only impose conditions on trans-boundary projects.

In order to obtain a permit, operators would have to provide disaster response plans and agree to compensate the province, municipalities and First Nations for any damages, among other conditions.

When Premier John Horgan announced the proposed changes last year, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley accused him of breaking the rules of Confederation and declared a short-lived ban on B.C. wines.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would triple the capacity of the existing line from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., and increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

The Canadian Press

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

Surrey seniors call Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, a new-to-B.C. program

‘Crazy coincidence’ saw program connect soon after COVID-19 pandemic hit

Liquor permission considered for White Rock’s Memorial Park

Council mulls business-boosting measures, including picnic benches

Surrey pushing the poor out of Whalley, public hearing speakers say

‘There is a war on the poor here in Surrey,’ resident Dave Diewert tells city council

IHIT investigating death of Surrey woman

Injured woman was taken to SMH early Tuesday morning

Charges laid in 2019 single-vehicle crash in Surrey that killed young soccer star

Dilpreet Sandhu, 19, faces eight charges in early morning crash that killed Brandon Bassi

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

COVID claims 23rd Langley Lodge patient, making it the deadliest outbreak in B.C.

Coronavirus kills another senior at Langley care home, bringing B.C. total to 166

Family of dead B.C. football star urge changes to mental health policies in hospitals

Uko family disappointed in actions of Regina hospital, hosting public funeral service this weekend

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Maple Ridge woman fights WorkSafe BC over police widow’s pension

Dalila Vroom says husband, Const. Rob Vroom, died as a result of PTSD from time with Abbotsford PD

Most Read