The B.C. government’s reference case asks the court if the province has jurisdiction to regulate the transport of oil through its territory and restrict bitumen shipments from Alberta. (File photo/Black Press Media)

B.C. Court of Appeal to hear province’s oil-transport reference case Monday

The case asks if proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act are valid

British Columbia’s Court of Appeal will consider a key question regarding provincial powers in the political battle over the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project during a five-day hearing that starts Monday.

The B.C. government’s reference case asks the court if the province has jurisdiction to regulate the transport of oil through its territory and restrict bitumen shipments from Alberta.

Specifically, it asks if proposed amendments to British Columbia’s Environmental Management Act are valid and if they give the province the authority to control the shipment of heavy oils based on the impact spills could have on the environment, human health or communities.

The province is also asking the court whether the amendments are overridden by federal law.

READ MORE: National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have said only Ottawa, not the provinces, has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines.

Alberta and Saskatchewan have both filed documents as interested parties supporting the federal government in the case.

When B.C. filed the reference case last year, Alberta announced it would ban B.C. wines and accused Horgan of trying to break the rules of Confederation in newspaper ads.

Last summer, the Federal Appeal Court overturned approval of the project to triple oil shipments from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., ruling that the National Energy Board had not properly considered its impact on marine life nor had Ottawa meaningfully consulted with Indigenous groups.

Last month, the board found that the pipeline is still in the public interest despite the risk that an increase in tanker traffic could adversely affect southern resident killer whales, hurt related Indigenous culture and increase greenhouse gas emissions. It added 16 new recommendations for federal government action in addition to the 156 conditions in its initial approval in 2016.

The federal government purchased the pipeline last year.

Trudeau has said the expansion is in the best interests of all Canadians and his government has committed $1.5 billion to an ocean protection plan that includes millions for research on B.C. killer whales.

Horgan said last year the aim of the case is to protect the province’s coastline and economy from the harms of an oil spill.

“We believe it is our right to take appropriate measures to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic consequence of a diluted bitumen spill,” Horgan said in a statement when the reference case was announced last April.

“And we are prepared to confirm that right in the courts.”

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Victoria seeks court order to enforce sheltering rules in Beacon Hill Park

People being asked to move out of environmentally sensitive areas of park

Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge

Process is already in place to determine future of Oak Bay Lodge

Police watchdog reviewing Victoria police-involved crash

VicPD officer collided with another car in downtown intersection

Architect plans to revitalize Victoria ‘gateways,’ including Wellburns building

Wood-construction apartments planned for Scott, Wellburn’s buildings

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read