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

Dan McCauley put his carpentry skills to work to create this new bench in downtown Chemainus from blowdown wood. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former carpenter spruces up bench with Douglas fir

Blowdown wood utilized to create a polished sitting space downtown

Municipality of North Cowichan.
Electrical contract awarded for RCMP building

Council meeting recap from May 5 includes Island Health delegation on wellness and recovery centre

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley looks at electric school bus acquisition as driving Cowichan forward. (Photo submitted)
New electric school bus for Cowichan district

Higher price offset by reduced repair and maintenance costs compared to diesel

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor. (Photo by Bernard Thibodeau)
MacGregor introduces bill to mark Canadian Armed Forces Members Day Oct. 22

Objective to honour those who’ve lost their lives in non-combat roles on Canadian soil

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop remains closed for the time being. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Healthcare Auxiliaries Day marks 76 years on Saturday, May 8

Chemainus Thrift Shop situation will be revisited Tuesday

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

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

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read