Supreme Court dismisses Burnaby case against Trans Mountain pipeline
Court ruling allows building of pipeline
A Supreme Court of Canada decision to dismiss an appeal opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline drew praise from Ottawa, the Alberta government and an Indigenous leader Thursday. Cheam First Nation Chief Ernie Crey said the decision clears hurdles to a project that proponents say will result in a variety of economic benefits and opportunities for all Canadians. Alberta premier Rachel Notley added that her government is “batting a thousand” when it comes to standing up for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Meanwhile, environmental groups and the city of Burnaby — which launched the court challenge — expressed dismay at the ruling. While this was a significant court victory for the pipeline expansion, a further legal challenge from some First Nations still exists. Many Indigenous groups oppose the expansion, but 43 First Nations have signed benefit agreements in connection with the plan.
The Alberta government is “batting a thousand” when it comes to fighting for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Premier Rachel Notley said Thursday, after the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal by the City of Burnaby on construction of the controversial line.
“When the B.C. government tried to overstep its legal and constitutional authority, we took bold action — and they backed down,” she said in a social media post.
“When the City of Burnaby tried to block the Trans Mountain Pipeline in court, we intervened — and we won in court and we won again today.”
Notley said the courts have made 17 straight rulings in favour of Trans Mountain.
The leader of an Indigenous group that hopes to some day own a stake in the pipeline is also encouraged by the decision.
“I have the feeling, at the end of the day, it’s going to clear all the hurdles that remain of a legal nature and so I’m happy at this ruling,” said Cheam First Nation Chief Ernie Crey.
When the federal government agreed in May to buy the pipeline that spans from Alberta to the B.C. coast and related infrastructure for $4.5 billion from Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd., it signalled that it didn’t intend to own it for the long term and would sell it as soon as possible.
Although many B.C. First Nations oppose the pipeline — and several are parties to a Federal Court of Appeal challenge of Ottawa’s project approval in 2016 — 43 First Nations have signed benefit agreements, Crey pointed out.
“There is growing interest on the part of Indigenous people to take out a stake in the pipeline,” he said.
“They (may) have the option of buying shares, of course, but my impression from the leadership I’ve talked to in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C., is they want a substantial interest in the pipeline.”
The City of Burnaby and environmental groups vowed to continue to fight the pipeline despite the setback.
A spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the government stands by its decision to buy the pipeline, noting it is needed because it will provide access to new markets for Canadian crude and create new jobs.
Alberta has pledged to spend up to $2 billion, if needed, to keep the project going.