Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. First Nations Take Ottawa to Court over Trans Mountain Pipeline Approval

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. First Nations Take Ottawa to Court over Trans Mountain Pipeline Approval

Article excerpt

First Nations take Ottawa to court over pipeline

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VANCOUVER - Opposition is mounting against the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline as three First Nations launch fresh legal challenges aimed at stymying a project they say was approved without proper consultation.

Representatives from the coastal Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish nations, as well as the Coldwater Indian Band near Merritt in B.C.'s Interior, told reporters Tuesday that the federal government failed to meaningfully include them in the planning and review process before approving Kinder Morgan Canada's $6.8-billion project.

The controversial expansion would run from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., and would triple the existing pipeline's capacity. It is also expected to increase tanker traffic seven-fold within the densely populated Burrard Inlet.

Chief Lee Spahan of the Coldwater Indian Band said he has serious concerns over the government's decision to approve a route that poses unacceptable risks to his community's drinking water, should the Coldwater Valley watershed be contaminated.

"The Crown acknowledged if there were a spill or release from the pipeline, it would be impossible to remediate our aquifer to potable standards," Spahan said. "In other words, we would never be able to drink our water again."

Spahan said Kinder Morgan identified a safer, albeit more costly, alternative route but withdrew the option from the National Energy Board's consideration without consulting or notifying the Coldwater nation.

"For Coldwater, this is about our drinking water. It is our Standing Rock," he said, referencing the high-profile protests in the United States against a pipeline the Standing Rock Sioux say threatens their water supply.

The federal government did not respond to requests for comment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Trans Mountain project last November with 157 conditions that were laid out by the National Energy Board. He said he expects the decision to be "bitterly disputed," but ultimately it is in Canada's best interest. …

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