B.C.’s Court of Appeal is hearing a reference case that asks whether the province can create a permitting system for transporters of hazardous substances through its territory. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Trans Mountain court hearing: B.C. says it won’t reject pipelines without cause

Canada says the proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act must be struck down

A lawyer representing British Columbia says proposed changes to an environmental law won’t allow the province to refuse to provide a permit to a pipeline operator for no reason.

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is hearing a reference case that asks whether the province can create a permitting system for transporters of hazardous substances through its territory.

The governments of Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan say Ottawa — not provinces — has jurisdiction over inter-provincial projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Canada says in court documents that the proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act must be struck down because they give the province a “veto” over such projects.

Joseph Arvay, a lawyer for B.C., says the amendments only allow the province to refuse to issue a permit or revoke one in cases where the operator fails to follow conditions imposed upon it.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline work destroyed salmon habitat: scientist

He adds that if the operator finds the conditions too onerous, it can appeal to the independent Environmental Appeal Board, or in the case of Trans Mountain, the National Energy Board.

The energy board has set up a process where Trans Mountain Corp. can argue that a condition is too burdensome and violates the special status of inter-provincial projects, he says.

“The NEB effectively gets the last word … but it’s going to be condition by condition, law by law,” Arvay told a panel of five judges on Tuesday.

Arvay says the law would be unconstitutional if it declared an absolute prohibition on pipelines in B.C., but the amendments only impose conditions on trans-boundary projects.

In order to obtain a permit, operators would have to provide disaster response plans and agree to compensate the province, municipalities and First Nations for any damages, among other conditions.

When Premier John Horgan announced the proposed changes last year, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley accused him of breaking the rules of Confederation and declared a short-lived ban on B.C. wines.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would triple the capacity of the existing line from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., and increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ashcroft RCMP looking for witnesses after four-year-old assaulted

Boy was injured in altercation during weekend soccer tournament

Grants will help Chinook and coho get past the damaged Bonaparte fishway

Salmon will be captured and transported around fishway to get to spawning grounds

Graffiti Days 2019 a huge success

Hundreds of cars and spectators — including a History channel TV personality — turned out for the event

Bus company fears for future if another licence issued for Interior routes

Adventure Charters waiting to see if Ebus BC is approved for Prince George-Kamloops run

Sea Cadets wind up another year with Ceremonial Review

Corps is fundraising for a trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2020

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from B.C. furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Rising gas prices force B.C. residents to rethink summer road trips: poll

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

Most Read