A Langley-based group opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Langley was pleased with Thursday’s court ruling blocking further construction of the route.
Brandon Gabriel of Stand With Kwantlen, a group that has organized local opposition to the plan, said the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals showed the criticisms of the project have been right all along.
The court ruled both that the consultation with First Nations was inadequate, and that the National Energy Board (NEB) should have considered possible impacts of increased tanker traffic.
“That this so-called consultation process with First Nations has been a sham since the beginning,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel did not assume that the pipeline project is definitely dead.
“History has shown that colonial governments don’t like appearing weaker to Indigenous nations,” Gabriel said, “and they will continue pushing their rhetoric, and continue their marketing campaigns purporting jobs, the economy, and safe practices – when clearly they have not demonstrated or proven any of those assertions to be true.”
Gabriel has been among the key organizers of rallies and protests against the pipeline, with a group of Kwantlen First Nation members, environmentalists, and some local landowners joining together in opposition.
In favour of the pipeline has been much of Langley’s business community, including the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s members were polled and 83 per cent of them supported the pipeline.
“The Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce is very disappointed with today’s decision from the Federal Court of Appeal to overturn the government’s approvals to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” said chamber president Jack Nicholson.
“Moving crude oil by rail through suburbs is far more hazardous than using state of the art technology in pipelines,” Nicholson said. He noted that a lot of oil being shipped by rail moves through Langley.
The pipeline may still go ahead. Federal finance minister Bill Morneau reiterated that the project is “in the national interest” Thursday.
The government could appeal the ruling, or it could hold a new NEB review and undertake more consultation with First Nations along the pipeline route.
The oil pipeline, first built in the 1950s, runs from northern Alberta to a refinery in North Burnaby. It passes through North Langley, near Fort Langley and through the middle of what is now suburban Walnut Grove.
• More to come