Pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline is unloaded in Edson, Alta. on Tuesday June 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Federal Court of Appeal to release ruling on B.C. First Nations’ pipeline challenge

Trans Mountain case focused on federal government’s consultation with Indigenous groups

The Federal Court of Appeal is set to release its decision on the latest challenge of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Tuesday.

Four First Nations from B.C. filed court challenges after the federal government approved the project a second time last June.

A court hearing in December was specifically focused on the government’s consultation with the First Nations between August 2018 and June 2019.

The consultation took place after the Court of Appeal struck down the first project approval in August 2018 in part because of insufficient dialogue with Indigenous groups.

At the hearing last month, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, Coldwater Indian Band and a coalition of small First Nations from the Fraser Valley argued that the government came into the consultations having predetermined the outcome.

The federal government responded that consultations were meaningful, saying that instead of just listening and recording the concerns it heard, it instead incorporated them into broader programs to protect the environment.

The project will triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to a shipping terminal on Metro Vancouver’s coast.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government purchased the pipeline and related infrastructure for $4.5 billion in 2018 and construction of the expansion is underway.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected B.C.’s attempt to regulate what can flow through the expanded pipeline from Alberta.

Premier John Horgan said Wednesday that he accepts the court ruling even though he is “not enamoured” with the prospect of a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Salish Sea.

The Canadian Press

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