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Federal Court dismisses challenge to Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

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The Westridge Marine Terminal, the terminus of the Trans Mountain Pipeline,in Burrard Inlet in Burnaby.


JASON REDMOND / REUTERS

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed a challenge to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Four B.C First Nations filed court challenges last year after the federal government approved the project.

A court hearing in December focused on the government’s consultation with the First Nations between August 2018 and June 2019.

However, on Tuesday the Federal Court said the Indigenous groups did not show that Canada failed to meet its duty to consult and accommodate during the re-initiated consultations.

The consultation took place after the Court of Appeal struck down the first project approval in August 2018 in part because of insufficient dialogue with Indigenous groups.

At the hearing last month, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, Coldwater Indian Band and a coalition of small First Nations from the Fraser Valley argued that the government came into the consultations having predetermined the outcome.

The federal government responded that consultations were meaningful, saying that instead of just listening and recording the concerns it heard, it also incorporated them into broader programs to protect the environment.

The project is set to triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to carry diluted bitumen and refined products from Alberta’s oilsands to a shipping terminal in Burnaby, B.C.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government purchased the pipeline and related infrastructure for $4.5 billion in 2018 and construction of the expansion is underway.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected B.C.’s attempt to regulate what can flow through the expanded pipeline from Alberta.

Premier John Horgan said he accepts the court ruling even though he is “not enamoured” with the prospect of a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Salish Sea.

More to come…

-with files from The Canadian Press

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