Legality of Pipeline Research in BC’s Parks Being Questioned

By Roy L Hales

When they were granted a license last November, the regulations stated Trans Mountain “must contribute to the scientific knowledge of the protected area(s).” They were conducting a feasibility study that was the preliminary step to building a pipeline. Now the legality of pipeline research in BC’s parks is being questioned .

Four months passed before the BC Government passed legislation, Bill 4: The Park Amendment Act, that made industrial research in public parks legal.  It was rushed through the legislature with no public consultation.

The Globe and Mail reports that BC’s Minister of the Environment emailed them, “BC Parks has issued research permits in the past and believed they had [authority] to issue such permits. Recent legal review raised concerns that the authority for issuing these permits is not clear and ensuring clarity through amending the Park Act would be required. This is what [Bill 4] does,” said the statement.”

Fishing in Finn Creek – Bruce Guenter, cc by 2.0

Gwen Barlee, of the Wilderness Committee, also quoted the Minister today:

“Environment Minister Mary Polak, actually admitted that the reason Bill 4 was pushed through so aggressively – and with so little debate – was to “ensure that we can continue on with what we have been doing”. She acknowledged that the granting of these permits “likely would not stand the test of a [court] review”, and that the Park Act amendments would help the government avoid a legal challenge. Passing Bill 4 certainly helped out pipeline companies seeking access to protected lands – but the Kinder Morgan research permit was issued before these amendments were made.  Consequently, we believe that this permit is unlawful.”

The Wilderness Committee is now seeking legal advice as to the feasibility of mounting a legal challenge against the Provincial Government.

 Bridal Veil Falls, in British Columbia, Canada. - The High Fin Sperm Whale, CC @ 3.0, Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Bridal Veil Falls, in British Columbia, Canada. – The High Fin Sperm Whale, CC @ 3.0, Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

This story first surfaced last month, when the Vancouver SUN reported, “The Ministry of Environment is anticipating applications for boundary adjustments to at least 35 parks and other protected areas to accommodate industrial pipelines, transmission lines and resource roads”

Trans Mountain is now targeting five protected areas: Finn Creek Provincial Park; North Thompson River Provincial Park; Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area; Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area; and Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park.

They are taking soil samples, and even electro-shocking fish – a research technique that involves stunning fish with electric currents in order to assess fish populations in a stream or river.
left to right: Anna Gerrard, Mark Worthing, Matt Hammer and Caitlyn Vernon – Courtesy BC Sierra Club
In related news, there is a Procession and Rally against the proposed pipeline on Saturday April 12.  According to their press release:  procession:

Organized by Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion (BROKE), the People’s Procession and Rally will follow Kinder Morgan’s existing and proposed oil pipeline, mapping them as they cut across the City of Burnaby. The procession is a collaboration between BROKE and artist Gabriel Saloman who was commissioned to create a performative public walk as part of Unit/Pitt Projects’ “Public Walks/Spaces of Contestation” exhibition, curated by Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte.

When / Where: Saturday, April 12, 2014

• 10:00 a.m. – Procession begins at Forest Grove Park (8505 Forest Grove Dr., Burnaby)
• 12:00 p.m. – Procession arrives at Squint Lake Park (1541 Greystone Dr., Burnaby)
• 1:00 p.m. – Procession arrives at Westridge Park (320 Cliff Ave., Burnaby)
• 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. – Rally with speeches and performances at Westridge Park
• 2:30 p.m. – Flotilla of Boats gathers in the Burrard Inlet
• 3:00 p.m. – Procession arrives at Westridge Marine Terminal

Boats for media will meet at Cates Park Dock (North Vancouver) at 1:00 p.m. Large boats will meet at the foot of Cliff Ave. in Burnaby. Canoes and kayaks will leave Cates Park at 2:15 p.m., to meet the procession marching down Cliff Ave. in Burnaby at 3:00 p.m. There will be a short welcome and speeches from the lead boat, then music.

Event partners:

• Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE)
• North Shore NOPE : No Pipeline Expansion
• The Sacred Trust initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation
• Wilderness Committee
• VTACC – Voters Taking Action on Climate Change
• Forest Ethics Advocacy
• Sustainable SFU
• Pacific Wild Alliance
• BCEN – BC Environmental Network
• FORPA – Forest Protection Allies Association
• Vancouver Ecosocialist Group
• The Council of Canadians
• Sierra Club BC
• PIPE UP Network
• and more…

Event details:

(Image at top of page: Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area north of Kamloops, British Columbia. – Staitgate, cc @ 3.0, Courtesy Wikipedia Commons)