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Nova Scotia First Nation loses bid to add new evidence in Alton Gas case

Protesters gather at the Alton Natural Gas Storage LP office in Stewiacke, N.S., on October 4, 2016.
Protesters gather at the Alton Natural Gas Storage LP office in Stewiacke, N.S., on October 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

A judge has dismissed a bid by a Nova Scotia First Nation to have new evidence introduced in a case involving the band’s opposition to a plan to use river water to create caverns for natural gas storage in central Nova Scotia.

READ MORE: Contempt case of Indigenous women arrested at Alton Gas site delayed until April 

The Sipekne’katik (Indian Brook) First Nation wants to stop Alton Natural Gas Storage LP from using water from the Shubenacadie River to flush out underground salt deposits near Alton, N.S., then pump the leftover brine back into the river.

In July 2017, the Mi’kmaq band won an appeal of the provincial government’s 2016 decision to allow Alton Gas to operate a brine storage pond near the river. But in April 2019, after a series of legal moves, the environment minister decided there had been sufficient consultation with the band and the project was again given approval – with some changes.

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Trio of Mi’kmaq grandmothers appear in court after being accused of trespassing
Trio of Mi’kmaq grandmothers appear in court after being accused of trespassing

The band filed another appeal in May 2019, and later sought a court order that would allow the introduction of an affidavit from a consultant that was not before the minister when the original decision was made.

READ MORE: Mi’kmaq grandmothers want unceded land recognition from Nova Scotia Supreme Court

The band says the affidavit shows the Sipekne’katik First Nation did not have the resources “to engage in meaningful consultation with the province.”

In a decision released Friday, Justice John Bodurtha rejected the band’s request, saying even though it was clear the Crown has a duty to consult, the introduction of the affidavit at this point would require “exceptional circumstances.”