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ICYMI: Tribunal sends FortisBC pipeline permit back to regulator so resident can submit concerns

Permit goes back to the BC Energy Regulator so Squamish resident can submit concerns about the pipeline project that crosses her property underground.
Part of the project’s addition of a natural gas pipeline, and subsequent decommissioning of sections of pipeline, are located underground on Voss’s property off of Finch Drive. 

B.C.’s Energy Resource Appeal Tribunal has sent a FortisBC’s permit back to the BC Energy Regulator, so that a Squamish resident can submit feedback.

In a tribunal decision published on March 15, the panel chair of the tribunal, Jeff Hand, wrote that a recent FortisBC permit for the Eagle Mountain - Woodfibre Gas Pipeline Project

needed to be rescinded to the BC Energy Regulator until a local resident, Linnea Voss, has the opportunity to submit concerns. 

Part of the project’s addition of a natural gas pipeline, and subsequent decommissioning of sections of pipeline, are located underground on Voss’s property off of Finch Drive. 

“In this appeal, [Voss] was never given the opportunity to make her objections known. As such, it cannot be said that those concerns were considered at all, let alone whether they were given due regard,” wrote Hand in the decision.

The main issue in question was whether or not FortisBC provided notice of these permits, allowing Voss to state her concerns before the BC Energy Regulator (BCER) considered approving the permit. 

The decision notes that Voss receives mail at a PO Box since mail is not delivered to the property, yet Voss said she did not receive notice of the permit. On the other hand, FortisBC said it was entitled to serve notice via the PO Box since it is the address on file and it is where Voss receives mail, plus Voss has received communication via the PO Box in the past, and it could not physically mail notice to the property.

The BCER noted that once Voss was seemingly served, there was no obligation to use another method of service. Additionally, the BCER said Voss has no right to veto the activity but only the right to voice concerns and that the BCER considered the views of several experts about the permit applications and they found no issues.

Hand did not agree with the arguments posed by FortisBC or the BCER.

“FortisBC’s position suggests they had no choice but to mail the notification to the PO Box. This ignores the other provisions of the Regulation that would have permitted service by other means, such as leaving a copy with the appellant [Voss],” said Hand. “The BCER submits that FortisBC was not obligated to use other means of service, having already affected proper service. This argument misses the point. Proper service under the ordinary mail process, as authorized by the regulation, was not made. While FortisBC was not obligated to use the specific method of service of mailing the notification to the appellant, it was obligated to use a method of service authorized by the regulation. It did not do so.”

On previous deliveries of notice to the PO Box, Hand continued, “Any evidence on this point is immaterial, as any previously successful delivery by a method not permitted under the Regulation does not alter the obligation on FortisBC to comply … for this notification.”

Finally, Hand wrote the BCER argument that they considered the scrutiny of experts did not help their case in having the appeal dismissed.

“Doing so would, in effect, be saying that even though the appellant did not submit concerns, I should nonetheless find that the permits were properly issued without knowing what those concerns might be. This would make the required consultation process meaningless.”

Previous to the above appeal, Voss submitted a stay application, or a stop or hold on a legal proceeding about a FortisBC permit. It was denied in 2022.


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