Communities and Coal director Paula Williams. Contributed photo

Communities and Coal director Paula Williams. Contributed photo

Proposed coal project for Fraser Surrey Docks back in court

It could be months before the federal appeal court renders a decision

Ecojustice lawyers were in federal appeal court in Vancouver last Thursday in the latest round of a protracted court battle over a U.S. thermal coal port facility proposed for Fraser Surrey Docks.

Last February opponents of the project lost a four-year-long legal fight challenging its approval by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Fraser Surrey Docks applied in 2012 for a permit to build and operate a coal transfer facility in Surrey along the river, proposing to bring coal in from the U.S. by rail and load it onto barges bound for Texada Island, from where ships would take it to Asia. A review was held, with community groups, First Nations and civic governments, during which process the applicants in the federal court battle expressed concern over impacts on the environment.

Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, is representing Communities and Coal Society and two local women — Christine Dujmovich and Paula Williams — in their case against the project.

“Ecojustice and its clients are committed to standing up against a project that would feed one of the dirtiest industries on the planet,” Ecojustice lawyer Fraser Thomson said. “We need impartial processes for approving projects that could significantly impact human health and the climate. Our clients argue the Port did not act impartially, and so its approval of the project cannot stand.”

Williams, who attended the latest hearing at the Federal Court of Appeal on 701 West Georgia, in courtroom 601, said lawyers for both sides each presented two hours of argument Thursday before the judgment was reserved.

“The decision could take five to 10 months to come back, so it’s a little bit of a wait,” she said. “We started this whole coal thing back in 2013, so we’ve been at it over five years already so I guess what’s another 10 months, right?”

“It was definitely full,” Williams, a resident of Crescent Beach and co-founder of Communities and Coal, said of the courtroom. “We had supporters there, it was nice to see. I was pleasantly surprised, after all this time, that we would have a turnout like we did.”

READ ALSO: Federal court kills bid to stop coal transfer facility at Surrey docks

“It’s just wait and see,” Williams told the Now-Leader. “Somebody asked can the decision be appealed to the Supreme Court (of Canada), but it’s probably highly unlikely because there’s some pretty rigid standards for something to be submitted to the Supreme Court

”I can’t imagine it going that far, I think we’ll just wait and see what happens. Ecojustice, I just have to say, has been amazing. What a hard-working bunch of people to do this as a charity law firm. Obviously as a everyday regular person we couldn’t have done this without their help. For an average person to go up against the port, financially that’s impossible and I think that’s why people are reluctant to challenge things that they see as an injustice.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter

Fraser Surrey Docks coal transfer court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lisa Batstone’s appeal of her conviction and sentence for the killing of her eight-year-old daughter is set for Jan. 12, 2021. (File photos)
South Surrey mother’s murder-appeal date set

Lisa Batstone is appealing her conviction and sentence in death of eight-year-old daughter

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

RCMP. (File photo: Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media)
Surrey RCMP recover stolen semi-trailer and its $200K of cargo

Police say the cargo was found in separate location than the trailer

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

FILE – A near empty waterfront train platform is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
TransLink disables some services for second day due to ‘suspicious network activity’

Customers cannot use credit card or debit card at fare gates or Compass card vending machines

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:14 a.m.
Westbound Highway 1 lanes in Abbotsford closed as crews investigate serious crash

Crash occurred between McCallum and Riverside roads at around 4 a.m., next update at 8 a.m.

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Most Read