The federal and provincial governments may have approved the Trans Mountain pipeline extension, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over, according to three First Nations who’ve launched legal challenges.
“We are all finding legal means to try and get the decision overturned because of the inadequate consultation with First Nations,” Tsleil-Waututh Nation elected council Charlene Aleck told reporters Tuesday in downtown Vancouver.
"We all stand together to show that our main threat and concern is the salmon-bearing water."
— Kat (@katslepian) January 17, 2017
Members of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish Nation and Coldwater Indian Band hosted the news conference to stand together in their opposition to the $6.8-billion expansion, which would triple the Kinder Morgan pipeline’s capacity to capacity to 890,000 barrels per day, and result in a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic through Vancouver harbour.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government’s approval on Nov. 29, saying he believed the project was safe for B.C. and would help keep oil from travelling by rail across the country, at greater risk to communities.
The B.C. government gave the green light last week. Premier Christy Clark said the company had met its five conditions for new oil pipeline construction, including B.C. getting its fair share of the project’s benefits and the company building a world-class response system to spills.
At least five First Nations have launched separate legal challenges against Kinder Morgan, Aleck said.
Coldwater Indian Band Chief Lee Stahan said the pipeline route through their local aquifer is just feet away from creeks that his nation depends on for both drinking water and salmon.
“The Crown acknowledged that if there was a spill or release from the pipeline, it would be impossible to remediate the aquifer to potable standards,” said Stahan. “We would never be able to drink our water again but unfortunately Crown and Kinder Morgan failed to address this grave risk.”
Squamish Nation Chief Ian Campbell said the way the decisions were made harked back to the days when First Nations land rights were trampled over.
“For the Squamish Nation, it is not the proponent’s obligation to consult, it is that of the Crown and the Crown has failed in their consultation with the Squamish Nation.”