Monday, January 16, 2023

Metlakatla First Nation seeks Federal Judicial Review of VOPAK environmental approval

A conceptual drawing of the proposed VOPAK bulk fuels
facility on Ridley Island
(From the PRPA in 2022)

The Metlakatla First Nation has challenged the findings of a recent environmental approval for the proposed VOPAK fuels export terminal on Ridley Island, seeking a Judicial Review through Federal Court of the approval for the 885 million dollar Bulk Fuels facility through Federal Court.

The First Nation filed the first of their paperwork in early December, with a steady stream of items arriving at the Federal Court through the last few weeks.

The Court File Registry is available here, use the search by Court Number option using court Number T-2619-22  

To pull up the list of documentation click on the square that says more, in order to review the list submitted to date.

As we outlined  in late November last year, the Notice of Determination was released by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada earlier that month, noting that they had determined that it was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority hailed the regulatory milestone for the project with a statement on November 28th.  The Port in their information release noted of the consultation process with Indigenous Nations towards impact to environment, and Indigenous Peoples and their interests and rights.

However, the Metakatla First Nation still had a number of concerns related to the proposal, the consultation process and subsequent Notice of Determination.

Among the areas of note that they have raised is the impact on wetlands in the area; as well as areas of note related to greenhouse gas emissions and the effect that they may have on climate change.

The First Nation petition to the court notes of how they view how their concerns were not addressed in a meaningful way as part of the review that led to the Notice of Determination. 

Towards the federal court listing, the NCR forwarded an email request for any additional comment or statement to both the Metlakatla First Nation and the Prince Rupert Port Authority, 

We did receive a statement this morning from the PRPA towards the topic.

"The Prince Rupert Port Authority is aware of the application for a federal judicial review filed by the Metlakatla First Nation regarding the recent Vopak Pacific Canada project’s environmental effects evaluation determination. We cannot comment any further on the ongoing judicial process. "-- Katherine Voigt, Manager Corporate Communications Prince Rupert Port Authority

As we post this item, we have yet to hear back from Metlakatla officials.  

Should a response be forthcoming, we will update the story.

Update: Early Monday afternoon, Shaun Thomas Communications Manager for the Metlakatla First Nation advised that at this point of the process, the First Nation had no comment to share.

"Thank you for reaching out. At this point we have no comment, but I will let you know if that changes."

You can learn more on the background of their quest for a review from a pair of items from Vacnvouer, with both the Vancouver Sun and Business in Vancouver providing a fairly expansive picture of the issues and the process ahead.

First Nation fights to quash environmental approval for $885 million petroleum facility

BC First Nation wants court to overturn federal government's ruling on proposed petroleum storage facility 

No details have been released by the Federal  Court as of yet towards a timeline for a review.

More background on the VOPAK proposal can be reviewed through our archive page.

Further notes of interest from Metlakatla can be explored here.


  1. When will the federal court be notified about Prince Rupert's thirteen untreated sewage outflows into coastal waters?

    1. Somewhat off the topic of note from Metlakatla ...

      But I believe the Federal Gov't is more than aware of the city's sewage challenges.

      In fact they are working on a test project at the moment towards that, dig into our Infrastructure archives to learn more about that one.


    2. Still off topic council decided to go into commercial leasing and build a bar.

    3. Yes you are and if you look around the archives, plenty of opportunity to share that theme to an area where it would make more sense ... NCR

  2. On one hand we have outrage and concern over revenue challenges and the ability to repair our infrastructure created in part by the port tax cap.

    On the other, we have more local resistance to new development which could contribute as much as $5 million in taxes per year to the City of PR.

    Federal and provincial regulators are satisfied with the project. Get out of the way Metlakatla so this town can can create the revenue to fix itself.

    1. Well they do have a right to file an appeal for review as they have done; so maybe we'll wait to see how the process plays out ... NCR

    2. Yes, of course they do. But the point is that despite our significant needs as a community, there is far too much resistance to potentially new sources of revenue. It'll be a lot harder to fix this town if we continue to be a difficult place to do business.