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Opponents unhappy, supporters welcome Ottawa's Trans Mountain approval

Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of Kinder Morgan Canada's Trans Mountain expansion project sit on rail cars at a stockpile site in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada May 29, 2018.
Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline of Kinder Morgan Canada's Trans Mountain expansion project sit on rail cars at a stockpile site in Kamloops, B.C., on May 29, 2018.

'No matter who approves it, this pipeline will not be built': Will George

Critics of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion immediately fired back after the Trudeau government approved today the mega-project for a second time.

The federal government was forced to reconsider the project after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled last August that Ottawa had not adequately consulted each of six First Nations that had challenged the project’s approval, and “unjustifiably” had not considered increased tanker traffic related to the project, which will have a negative effect on endangered killer whales.

“No matter who approves it, this pipeline will not be built,” said Will George, a leader of Protect The Inlet and community member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation whose territory encompasses the tanker terminal. “People in British Columbia are the ones risking disaster from spills and we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to stop this pipeline,.”

Earlier this year, after taking into consideration new information on the marine effects, the National Energy Board ruled in an expedited re-examination of the project that it could go ahead.

There was also another round of First Nations consultations, and Trudeau, speaking in Ottawa, said they had listened to First Nations and taken action on concerns around salmon, the SalishSea and the need for better marine incident response.

Trudeau also said the government will start another round of engagement with First Nations to provide a direct benefit from the project to them. He said the could be an equity stake as high as 100 per cent, revenue sharing or something else.

While coastal First Nations are adamantly opposed to the project, largely over environmental concerns, many other First Nations support it and have signed benefit agreements that will provide money and jobs from the project.

Environmental groups also immediately rebuked the decision, but business groups were pleased.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade welcomed the federal government approval.

“Responsible natural resource projects have been the lifeblood of our economy for decades, providing jobs and paying for many of the social services we all enjoy as Canadians. This project will be no exception, providing family-supporting jobs and new tax revenues for schools and hospitals across the country,” said Iain Black, president and CEO of the Board.

More to come.

ghoekstra@postmedia.com

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