British Columbia

B.C. politicians and business leaders greet Trans Mountain pipeline ruling with cheers and jeers

Business leaders and politicians have been quick to weigh in on the Federal Court of Appeal's ruling concerning the Trans Mountain pipleine expansion project.

Court halts all construction on the project until First Nations are properly consulted

B.C. Premier John Horgan said the court ruling, which halted construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, is a victory for all British Columbians who care about the safety of their coast. (CBC)

B.C. business leaders and politicians have been quick to weigh in on the Federal Court of Appeal decision that has effectively halted further construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled Thursday the government failed in its constitutional duty to "engage in a considered, meaningful two-way dialogue" with First Nations affected by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

The ruling halts all construction on the project until a new federal permit can be approved that meets the court's condition of proper consultation with First Nations — a decision that is being both applauded and denounced by various groups in B.C.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the province's largest business collective, says it is "discouraged" by the ruling.

"The message we just sent to investors is that it's nearly impossible to get resource projects done in Canada, despite following a robust federal regulatory process," said the organization's president and CEO Val Litwin, in a statement.

It says the ruling does a disservice to many Indigenous groups who support the project. The B.C. business group echos the federal government's message that the expansion is in the national interest, and argues further consultation on the project will be detrimental.

"How much consultation is reasonable for the approval of resource projects? This opens up the floodgates to have a never-ending consultation process where the goalposts are ever-changing," said Litwin.

However, B.C. Premier John Horgan called Thursday a "great day" for the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation — major opponents of the expansion — and for all British Columbians who think the project's approval process was flawed.

"It's not about winning and losing," said Horgan. "It's about the rule of law."

"I would hope that all Canadians [will] understand and recognize that here in British Columbia, Indigenous rights are issues that we need to address ..."

While the ruling doesn't mean the end of the expansion, Horgan said the project will no longer be "top of mind" for British Columbians, and his government will now be free to tackle housing affordability and education.

Horgan acknowledged that the ruling could be "devastating" to many Alberta residents, many of whom have a vested interest in the expansion but stressed that his responsibility is to the people of B.C.

Embattled Burnaby, B.C., Mayor Derek Corrigan, a longtime opponent of the expansion, called the ruling a much-needed victory. His city is directly affected by expansion construction and has seen several recent protests.

A group of men wearing safety vests handle a piece of pipe for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The court ruling has effectively halted construction of the 1,150-kilometre expansion project. (CBC)

"It's about time we had a victory," said Corrigan. "This decision is one that I might say is momentous."

"Being able to deal with some of the issues important to Indigenous people, environmentalists and to our community is really significant."

Corrigan said the ruling reflects a flawed consultation process for resource projects in Canada and said the federal government will have a difficult time pursuing the expansion through further talks with First Nations.

"Should they continue to put a project through that has so many difficulties and so much opposition?" said Corrigan.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson shared his fellow mayor's conviction that the court ruling is "monumental."

"The double-whammy decision against the Trans Mountain pipeline validates the strong concerns of the City of Vancouver and many others that Indigenous peoples were not adequately consulted — and marine impacts of oil tankers were ignored — in the federal review pipeline approval," said Robertson in a statement.

"This decision is a monumental win for the rights of Indigenous peoples and all of us who stand with them in firm opposition to a project that would massively increase climate pollution and put our coast at huge risk of oil spills."

With files from The Early Edition

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