FILE – Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and who oppose the Coastal Gaslink pipeline set up a support station at kilometre 39, just outside of Gidimt’en checkpoint near Houston B.C., on Wednesday January 8, 2020. The Wet’suwet’en peoples are occupying their land and trying to prevent a pipeline from going through it. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

FILE – Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and who oppose the Coastal Gaslink pipeline set up a support station at kilometre 39, just outside of Gidimt’en checkpoint near Houston B.C., on Wednesday January 8, 2020. The Wet’suwet’en peoples are occupying their land and trying to prevent a pipeline from going through it. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs set off Canada-wide rail blockades

The British Columbia Supreme Court has rejected a bid to quash the extension of the environmental assessment certificate for the natural gas pipeline at the centre of countrywide protests in February last year.

The Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a society governed by several hereditary chiefs, asked the court to send the certificate for the Coastal GasLink pipeline back to B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office for further review.

Their lawyers argued in part that the office did not meaningfully address the findings of the 2019 report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls when it approved the extension.

They said Coastal GasLink’s plan to mitigate potential socio-economic effects of the pipeline project did not address harms identified by the inquiry, which heard evidence linking the influx of temporary labourers for such projects with escalating gender-based violence.

Justice Barbara Norell disagreed, saying it’s clear from an evaluation report that the assessment office did consider the national inquiry’s report, and requested the company consider how such harms would be addressed.

She says in a decision released last week the assessment office also asked Coastal GasLink to consider how Indigenous nations would be engaged in identifying and monitoring potential social impacts of the pipeline project.

“These comments do not indicate a failure or refusal of the (assessment office) to consider the inquiry report, but the opposite,” she says.

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs over the pipeline being built in their territory in northwestern B.C. set off Canada-wide rail blockades by their supporters that stalled parts of the country’s economy.

The chiefs’ lawyers argued Coastal GasLink’s zero-tolerance policies for harassment and the possession of firearms, drugs and alcohol are focused on work camps, while the harms outlined by inquiry were not so limited.

Norell found the chiefs’ argument “leads to the conclusion that nothing short of a gender-based impact assessment conducted by the (Environmental Assessment Office) … would be reasonable.”

But to establish that a decision was unreasonable, the petitioner must do more than allege a better analysis could have been undertaken, Norell says.

“I want to emphasize that this decision should not be taken as in any way diminishing the importance of the inquiry report,” Norell adds.

The executive director of B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office granted Coastal GasLink an extension in October 2019, nearly five years after a certificate was first issued for the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline.

Lawyers for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en argued the office’s records of the decision to extend the certificate also failed to address what they claimed was a track record of non-compliance by the company.

Norell disagreed, saying the office’s evaluation report addressed both the frequency and nature of instances of non-compliance, and the company had either rectified or was in the process of rectifying those issues.

Hereditary chiefs with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en have opposed Coastal GasLink’s project, while five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils signed agreements approving construction that’s currently underway.

ALSO READ: Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red dot shows location where fisherman was rescued by boater on Friday, May 7, 2021. Other fisher still missing presumed drowned after boat swamped on Fraser River near Vedder/Sumas confluence. Rescued man swam to shore after boat sank, while friend is still classified as missing as of May 10. (City of Chilliwack map)
Fisherman still missing after boat flipped on the Fraser River

One man made it out, other still missing, after anchor got snagged in the Fraser near Chilliwack

Corina Rochon has been working the front lines of the pandemic in the intensive care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. She is also an instructor in the nursing program at University of the Fraser Valley.
Pandemic the most challenging of Abbotsford nurse’s 16-year career

Corina Rochon works front lines at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Joan Septembre went for a weekend hike at Lindeman Lake, parking next to a vehicle that had two windows smashed in. (submitted photo)
Thieves active at Lindeman Lake and other parking spots along Chilliwack Lake Road

The hiking community is lamenting an uptick in car theft and vandalism as the weather gets nicer

Dario Lopez comes to the Cascades from Madrid, Spain where he played in very competitive junior leagues. (Dan Kinvig/UFV Athletics)
UFV Cascades sign Spanish basketball talent

High-scoring forward Dario Lopez joins team for 2021-22 season

Coho smolts. (Tanis Grower photo)
OPINION: A giant, invisible problem for Fraser salmon and how to fix it

‘Successful examples of salmon-friendly flood control can already be found throughout the Lower Mainland’

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in B.C.

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

Most Read