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

Parksville’s Arrowsmith Lodge and Cokely Manor celebrate 50 years

Week of ‘60s-themed activities starts on April 26

UPDATE: Missing kayakers located safe and sound in Welcome Bay

Pair were reported missing April 22, in vicinity of Lasqueti Island

Review: The Magic of ‘Almost, Maine’

ECHO Players production runs through May 5 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach

Coombs farm auction returns April 28

CFI hosts 41st annual auction

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

Most Read