Court tells Ottawa to reconsider pipeline approval on B.C. reserve

VANCOUVER _ The Federal Court of Appeal has set aside a decision by the minister of Indian affairs that allowed the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline through the Coldwater Indian Reserve near Merritt, B.C.

The band expressed its concerns for plans to increase the pipelines capacity by twining it, and asked that the government modernize a 1952 agreement to allow for better compensation and environmental practices.

The Coldwater nation was paid $1,292 when the existing Trans Mountain pipeline was constructed through its reserve over 60 years ago.

In a split decision, the three-judge panel ruled the federal minister failed to assess the impacts of the easement on the Coldwater band and that it has a continuing duty to protect the band’s interests on its reserve from an exploitive bargain.

The court has ordered that the federal government redetermine the approval with consideration of the court decision in mind.

Coldwater Chief Lee Spahan says in a news release the band is happy the court recognized the importance of its land.