Court Tells Ottawa to Reconsider 1952 Pipeline Deal on B.C. Reserve

The Canadian Press, September 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

Court Tells Ottawa to Reconsider 1952 Pipeline Deal on B.C. Reserve


Appeal court sides with band on pipeline deal

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VANCOUVER - The Federal Court of Appeal has set aside a government decision approving the expansion of Kinder Morgan's oil pipeline through the Coldwater Indian Band reserve south of Merritt, B.C.

In a split decision, the three-judge panel ruled the federal minister of aboriginal and northern affairs failed to assess the impacts of a pipeline easement on the Coldwater band. The ruling says the minister had a continuing duty to protect the band's interests on its reserve from an exploitive bargain.

Coldwater Band Chief Lee Spahan said Wednesday the band was celebrating the decision that also forces a review of the original pipeline agreement made 65 years ago.

The original Trans Mountain oil pipeline was constructed through the small reserve in 1952. The band, which has about 860 members, received a one-time payment of $1,292.

"Back then our people weren't allowed to hire lawyers," Spahan said. "We weren't allowed to hire consultants. They just put the agreement in front of the leadership and they were told to sign."

When Kinder Morgan went back to the federal government to increase the capacity of the pipeline between B.C. and Alberta, the First Nation expressed its concern.

"They also expressed their desire that the minister take the opportunity afforded by the request for consent to the assignment to modernize the terms of the indenture so as to include more generous compensation for the band," the ruling says.

The band wrote a letter to the federal department saying it was not in its interest to consent to the pipeline expansion. …

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