A controversial federal bill that opponents said could hamper any future resource development was defeated by the Alberta Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
The Impact Assessment Act, formerly known as Bill C-69, was challenged by the UCP government and the majority of judges agreed it overstepped provincial jurisdiction on Tuesday.
In 2019 when the bill was first introduced, Lakeland communities including Bonnyville, Cold Lake, M.D. of Bonnyville, St. Paul, Lac La Biche and others, were part of a Coalition of Canadian Municipalities for Energy Action to lobby the federal government to make changes to the act.
Local leaders encouraged residents to write letters to Senators and MPs debating the bill.
The federal government said the bill was meant to streamline and restore trust in the environmental approval process for major projects, while Alberta, along with other provinces and some First Nations communities, believed it violated provincial jurisdiction on resource development and would create even more difficulty in proposing large-scale projects.
The local lobbying included a trip to Ottawa at the time from then Bonnyville Mayor Gene Sobolewski and then Cold Lake city councillor Bob Buckle.
When the Senate was further exploring the pros and cons of the bill, they travelled to communities across the country to hear local perspectives. That included a stop in Fort McMurray, where Sobolewski, and executive director of the Bonnyville and District Chamber of Commerce Serina Parsons spoke about their concerns over the bill.
The federal government has already said they plan to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Lakeland MP Shannon Stubbs believes the scope of the bill could have disturbing impacts, not only on future oil and gas projects, but on any major infrastructure project.
“I join with my colleagues and all Albertans in commending the Appeal Court’s ruling on Bill C-69 which noted that the Liberal government’s heavy-handed approach violates provincial jurisdiction over resource development,” MP Stubbs said.
“The scope of Bill C-69 is truly disturbing as its impacts go well beyond major resource development, would allow federal governments to steam roll provinces, and give unprecedented potential federal government power over provincial highways, provincial passenger trains, provincial recycling plants, and provincial resources, like wind, minerals, hydro and oil.”
Meanwhile Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbault made a statement Tuesday afternoon that said the Alberta Courts decision is “advisory” and the regulations remain in force.
“The Government of Canada worked extensively with legal experts and provincial and territorial governments to develop the Impact Assessment Act. We are confident the Impact Assessment Act is constitutional and we will appeal the decision,” he said.