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

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Saanich police search for potential victims, witnesses after series of unprovoked assaults

Police are looking for more information about two incidents from June 12

Crews respond to medical incident on West Saanich Road

Incident appears to be cleared, witnesses say

Non-venomous ball python missing in Vic West

Snake was reported missing to Victoria police Tuesday morning

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Most Read