Posted on January 13, 2010 (updated: January 13, 2010)

Community group challenges controversial Saint John pipeline

A New Brunswick community group announced today that it is launching a lawsuit over a proposed $350 million natural gas export pipeline that would cut through the heart of one of Canada’s oldest and largest urban parks, Rockwood Park in Saint John.

The lawsuit was filed in the Federal Court of Appeal by Sierra Legal, Canada’s leading environmental law organization, on behalf of the Friends of Rockwood Park. The non-profit volunteer group is concerned that the Brunswick Pipeline Project being proposed by Emera Inc., a Nova Scotia-based company, will harm the park and that the National Energy Board’s recently completed environmental assessment was unlawful.

“Our message is simple: A park is no place for a pipeline,” said Friends of Rockwood Park spokesperson Dr. Leland Thomas. “Although we have repeatedly raised our concerns over the last year, our voices are still not being heard. As a last resort we are going to court to protect our park and our City – admittedly an extraordinary step for a small group of concerned local citizens.”

The lawsuit alleges that the NEB failed to properly consider alternative means for the proposed pipeline, and specifically the environmental effects of an undersea pipeline route, as required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

“We are concerned with fundamental flaws in this pipeline’s environmental assessment that appear to violate the law,” said Sierra Legal lawyer Lara Tessaro. “Therefore any further permits must be halted until the proposal has received the full scrutiny of a proper environmental assessment.”

The proposed Brunswick Pipeline Project includes the construction and operation of a natural gas transmission pipeline, approximately 145 km in length, from Mispec Point to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, for export to the United States.

The proposed pipeline route through the park and City neighbourhoods has been met with fierce local opposition, including a petition signed by more than 15,000 local residents and numerous interventions. Due to this public outcry, the federal government insisted that the NEB Review Panel assess an alternative marine route.

Rockwood Park was established in 1894 and is one of the largest urban parks in the country, home to more than 2,200 acres of lakes, wilderness and green space.

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