The City of Burnaby in British Columbia is making a last-ditch application to the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to force the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to adhere to the city’s zoning and tree-cutting bylaws.
The application follows a decision by the National Energy Board in December 2017 that the city was unreasonably delaying the approval process for preliminary work on the project, including the issuing of tree-cutting permits. One of the conditions of the Trans Mountain approval was that it obtain all necessary municipal permits. The December 2017 decision relieved Trans Mountain of that obligation with respect to Burnaby’s zoning and tree-cutting bylaws.
Among the National Energy Board’s findings were that the review time was two to three times longer than Burnaby’s original estimate of six to eight weeks for a more complex review, and that the city’s actions, inactions and process delivery decisions were mostly the cause of the delay. It also said there was nothing to suggest the matter would soon be resolved.
Burnaby sought to appeal that decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. That application was denied by the court on March 23, 2018. The Federal Court of Appeal customarily does not give reasons for decisions on applications for leave to appeal.
Burnaby is now hoping that the Supreme Court of Canada will see things differently. It will ask the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal the Federal Court of Appeal’s denial of its application for leave to appeal. It will be an unusual application, but then Burnaby has been among the Lower Mainland’s most vocal opponents of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. It is the pipeline’s western terminus and will host an expanded tank farm and marine terminal once the project is complete.