Adam Olsen. (File)

MLA Column: Standing up for the Salish Sea

The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project (TMX) has been a contentious issue in British Columbia for three years. I have had many conversations with people passionately placed all along the spectrum of support to opposition.

The B.C. government announced they will be taking a different approach to Kinder Morgan’s project than their predecessor. They will intervene in the Federal Court of Appeal Judicial Review and hire Thomas Berger as external counsel guiding the government’s legal approach on the file. They also provided an update on the construction timeline, stating that construction is unlikely to proceed in September, as Kinder Morgan has suggested, as five of eight Environmental Management Plans are incomplete and have not been approved.

As an intervener in the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings for the project, I witnessed the deeply flawed process firsthand; its failures have been well documented and reported on. The Board’s report and recommendation, and the federal government’s decision to approve the project, are now the subjects of a Federal Court of Appeal Judicial Review later this fall.

The assessment and the approval were broken from the start – they excluded the impacts on climate change and ignored the threat of massive increases of tanker shipments carrying diluted bitumen through the Salish Sea. The current oil spill response is dreadfully deficient. Despite the rhetoric, the federal government has never made oil spill response a priority, and it was not even addressed properly in the assessment. The decision to approve the TMX project was political; it was not based on science or evidence, and all of the evidence submitted by Kinder Morgan has never been tested by oral cross-examination.

Canada relies on the Salish Sea. As the gateway to the Pacific, it is the trade route for thousands of other commodities. It makes no sense that the federal assessment would simply ignore the risks to this vitally important corridor.

Taking the care to uncover the whole economic picture is what builds social licence for projects of this magnitude to proceed; they must be thorough in order to demonstrate that the public can have confidence in the recommendation of the assessment panel. There should be no loose ends and the cost-benefit analysis should be complete and defensible. None of that exists for this project.

The outcome of the NEB hearing for TMX was predetermined. Environmental and social aspects of the project were handed to an energy regulator driven by the oil and gas industry. As a result, important questions about environmental protection are left unanswered and numerous issues with respect to First Nations rights remain unresolved.

Our local economy is powered by real estate, tourism and the emerging clean and high-tech economy. We have invested incredible amounts of capital, energy and love into our home and now we are being used as a gambling chip for the political benefits of the current federal government.

I am pleased that the provincial government is going to intervene in the upcoming judicial review and I am pleased that they have hired Mr. Berger. By all accounts he is a highly respected lawyer and has been a pioneer in Indigenous/non-Indigenous legal proceedings.

The federal government has left the communities and shorelines of the Salish Sea, and specifically Saanich North and the Islands, vulnerable in their haste to approve this project. I am proud that we had the courage to stand up and demand better.

Adam Olsen, MLA

Saanich North and the Islands

Just Posted

Development on grounds of former Victoria Truth Centre sent to public hearing

Controversial project moves forward with revisions to previous plans

Police wait on autopsy findings on human foot

Sooke RCMP are waiting for autopsy findings before determing if a human… Continue reading

Victoria rental prices declining, according to national listing website

The median price of a one-bedroom suite dropped almost five per cent in December

VIDEO: That’s a wrap: Be a Santa to a Senior packages ready to go out

Program hands out more than 600 gifts to Greater Victoria seniors

Lost Victoria: Story of the Crystal Palace

Historian Stuart Stark launches book about iconic Oak Bay structure that was lost to flames

VIDEO: That’s a wrap: Be a Santa to a Senior packages ready to go out

Program hands out more than 600 gifts to Greater Victoria seniors

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Island entering the peak of flu season

Island Health says flu shots the best prevention against the virus

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Moose calves rescued in northern B.C. are ‘golden nuggets:’ researcher

Calves discovered near Prince George in late May. Mother had been killed by a car

Most Read