The Islands Trust welcomed today’s unanimous decision by the Federal Court of Appeal, quashing the federal government’s approval to build the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.
The court stated that the National Energy Board assessment of the project was flawed to the point that the federal government should not have relied on the process to give approval to the project in 2016. Appeal court justices also found that consultation with First Nations was inadequate. In response, the federal Liberals reaffirmed their commitment to complete the oil pipeline, which the government has just purchased from Kinder Morgan, after revisiting the process.
“The Islands Trust is resolutely opposed to this project, believing that the increased tanker traffic it would bring to the Salish Sea represents an intolerable risk to the marine and island environments and communities who live and work along the transport corridor,” states a press release issued Thursday.
“The court’s decision aligns with Islands Trust’s beliefs, touching on issues we believe are critical for our local island communities,” explained Islands Trust Council chair Peter Luckham. “First is the need for all levels of government to consult with Indigenous people in a meaningful and truthful manner. We applaud those First Nations who argued so effectively in court. Secondly, the court recognized that the National Energy Board did not properly assess the impacts that increased tanker traffic would have on the sensitive marine environment of the Salish Sea, including the beloved and endangered southern resident orca populations.”
An oil spill within the Trust Area could have devastating impacts on the abundant biodiversity of the region and significantly affect species at risk, as well as harm the liveability and economic well-being of local communities, the Trust says.
Islands Trust Council says its members have been concerned with oil spill and oil tanker issues since 1979. As early as 1983, the Islands Trust Policy Statement included a policy to oppose increased oil tanker traffic in and adjacent to the Islands Trust Area waters and to support measures to reduce such traffic.
“The Islands Trust was an early and leading voice in asking for the federal government to consider the impacts of both marine shipping and diluted bitumen on the environment,” said Luckham. “We thank those agencies and First Nations that argued this case in court. We were with you in spirit and are grateful for your hard work. We hope this decision will cause the government to rethink its position on Trans Mountain and find alternative ways to invest in Canada’s future.”
Numerous Salt Spring Island residents have been among those protesting the pipeline project, along with First Nations, on Burnaby Mountain this year. Saanich Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May and several islanders are among those who pleaded guilty to contempt of court for blocking access to the pipeline work site.