National Energy Board wins B.C. appeal court case against Burnaby

The City of Burnaby lost the most recent round of its legal battle against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion Monday.

The B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled against the City of Burnaby in a dispute with the National Energy Board and upheld that the NEB has the right to override municipal bylaws.

This battle has been active since 2014 when Trans Mountain began field studies that involved cutting down trees in the conservation area on Burnaby Mountain and operating heavy machinery, which is against the city's bylaws.

The company was granted permission by the NEB to carry on with surveys without the city's consent.

"A city like Burnaby with 250,000 people is in a situation where really we don't have any power against an agency of the federal government and a multi-national corporation when they decide to impose their will on us," said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan to On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Decision worrying for municipalities?

He feels that the court has taken a narrow and legalistic view of the situation by entrusting the NEB with the authority to act in Canada's best interests, pointing to the federal government's creation of a panel to overhaul the agency.  

"We know they're acting in the best interest of the corporations that are moving this oil and exploiting this oil and have paid very little attention to the interests of other Canadians, particularly those in B.C."

Corrigan says all municipalities should be aware of the constraints on their abilities to represent its citizens in light of the ruling.

"I think all of us are concerned about those limitations and the failure to recognize that a significant part of the population of Canada lives in cities and rely on their local governments to represent their interest"

The city continues to oppose the $7.4-billion project, which would triple the capacity of the pipeline running from Alberta to Burnaby.

In December, it filed an application with the Federal Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the federal government's approval of the expansion.

"I think we're going to turn our guns to those proceedings and make sure that we do everything we can to argue a very forceful case in the federal court of appeal about the very real process problems that we had in dealing with the NEB," said Corrigan.

With files from the CBC's On The Coast and The Canadian Press

To hear the full interview listen to audio labelled National Energy Board wins B.C. appeal court case against Burnaby