By Gavin Smith, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law Association. This piece first appeared in the Vancouver Sun.
B.C.’s new government is already seeing proof that it made the right move when it committed to reform environmental assessment and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Taseko Mines’ New Prosperity mine proposal, back in the spotlight again for another round of litigation, is a poster child for the failings of B.C.’s environmental assessment regime — and the need for change.
The Tsilhqot’in National Government is currently seeking an injunction to prevent Taseko from digging test pits and conducting geotechnical drilling under provincial approvals granted in the last days of the outgoing government.
The proposed mine would be located within an area of Tsilhqot’in territory that includes Teztan Biny (Fish Lake). The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized constitutionally protected Tsilhqot’in hunting and trapping rights in the area. The region is also near to, but outside, the lands in which the Court recognized Tsilhqot’in aboriginal title.