Sarah Hansen has experience and expertise in environmental and aboriginal law, including contaminated site litigation. In her practice, she represents clients in complex commercial litigation matters relating to environmental matters and focusing on regulatory and administrative law, extra-provincial regulatory regimes, industry standards, sustainable energy practices, climate change and environmental compliance issues.
Sarah has represented clients in litigation and environmental defence matters under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the British Columbia Contaminated Sites Regulation, and the Federal Fisheries Act including working with municipalities, government and First Nations. She has worked on complex regulatory matters including: a mine expansion project and mining generally, environmental assessments and First Nations consultation and accommodation; the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Project before the National Energy Board; and an electricity project before the British Columbia Utilities Commission.
Aboriginal: consultation and accommodation with First Nations, consultation protocols, environmental assessment, judicial review, injunctions and various other issues concerning consultation and accommodation with First Nations in relation to energy projects (wind, forestry, mining, oil and gas, run-of-river) and rights and title claims.
Environmental: representing parties on cost recovery claims for the remediation of contaminated sites, representing companies in contamination claims caused by leaking storage tanks (residential and commercial properties), appeal of orders before the Environmental Appeal Board, and working with the Ministry of Environment to secure various approvals/compliance issues.
Professional achievements & leadership
- Lexpert Zenith Award: Mid-Career Excellence in the Legal Profession, 2018
- Benchmark Canada, Litigation Star: Aboriginal, Environmental, General Commercial, 2017
- Viscount Bennett Fellowship Award, 2004
- Campbell McLaurin Achievement Award, 1999
- Judicially reviewed Federal Government decision to approve Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Project before Federal Court of Appeal; argued on behalf of Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nation that Crown failed to adequately consult and address impacts from project on the Nation’s Aboriginal rights and title, in particular noting failure to engage with the Nation about project’s proposed route which passes through a sacred site at Pípsell and through sensitive grasslands in protected areas and previously undisturbed lands.
- Advised waste-to-clean-energy technology companies in BC, assisting with obtaining air emissions permits, increases to licensed volumes, and managing odour issues including proceedings before BC Environmental Appeal Board.
- Advised utility contractor on Environment Canada investigations under federal Fisheries Act with respect to spills in or about waters frequented by fish.
- Successfully defended an appeal before the British Columbia Supreme Court in the matter of Spookw v. Gitxsan Treaty Society, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of British Columbia, and the Attorney General of Canada with respect to a petition to the Supreme Court for the winding up of the Gitxsan Treaty Society under the Society Act, RSBC 1996, c. 433 on the basis that the petitioners lacked standing as proper persons.
- Successfully applied to Environmental Appeal Board for stay of certificate of cost recovery relating to a spill of hazardous substances into a fish-bearing stream, 2014-EMA-007(a) & 2014-EMA-008(a).
- Successfully made an application to dismiss plaintiff’s claim against Gitxsan Treaty Society, which among other things, sought to wind up the Society in Spookw v. Gitxsan Treaty Society, 2014 BCSC 1100.
- Successfully appealed a reassessment made under the Income Tax Act for an aboriginal business located on reserve. The Court concluded that the appellant’s business income was personal property having a strong connection to the reserve and thus is property situated on a reserve for the purposes of the Indian Act and hence exempt from taxation pursuant to section 81 of the Income Tax Act in the case of Reynold Dickie v. Her Majesty the Queen, a July 10, 2012 decision of Pizzitelli J.
- Successfully overturned a conviction as “constructor” under the Yukon Occupational Health and Safety Act in the case of Director of Occupational Health and Safety v. Government of Yukon et al., 2012 YKSC 47. Veale J. allowed the appeal finding that the Yukon Government was not the constructor on the project.
- Representation before the Supreme Court of BC relating to aboriginal rights and title, judicial reviews and injunction proceedings in the forestry sector and in the Federal Court relating to mining exploration
- Representation before the BC Environmental Assessment Office relating to a run-of-river project and aboriginal consultation and accommodation.
- Representation before the Environmental Appeal Board relating to the failure to consult and accommodate First Nations and on environmental matters in the mining sector.
- Representation before YESAB relating to business operations and aboriginal rights and title in the context of a modern day treaty.
- Representation before the Tax Court of Canada relating to Indian Exempt Status under the Income Tax Act.
- Representation before the British Columbia Utilities Commission relating to electricity transmission.
- Reinforcement; conducting cross examinations of witness panels and drafting final and reply arguments and experience before with the National Energy Board relating to energy projects.
- Representation before the Alberta Energy & Utilities Board (AEUB) in an oil & gas regulatory pre-hearing and negotiation of a Land-Use Resource and Development Agreement (LRD Agreement) involving multiple parties including landowners, land developers, oil & gas companies, and City of Calgary officials.
- Representation before the Federal Court of Canada relating to First Nations Aboriginal rights issues; experience in First Nations and resource development matters generally.
- Representation before Environmental Assessment Panels.
- “Review of Federal Enviromental Assessment and Regulatory Processes”, Project Development – Environmental and Indigenous Considerations, Miller Thomson seminar, 2017
- “Managing Environmental Due Diligence Investigations” panel, Environmental Issues in Property Development, Miller Thomson seminar, 2015
- “Environmental Issues in Agriculture: Anaerobic Digestion & GHG Emissions Regulation in BC”, Annual Legal and Regulatory Review, Agri-Energy and Waste Management Forum, Pacific Agriculture Tradeshow, 2015
- “Regulating GHG Emissions in BC”, Environmental Issues in Agriculture, Miller Thomson seminar, 2014
- “BC Contaminated Sites 101 and Consultants Liability”, Miller Thomson presentation, 2014
- “Monitoring GHG Emissions in BC”, Environmental Law in BC, Insight seminar, 2013
- “Environmental Update – Case Law and Tribunal Decisions”, Off-Site Contamination: A Primer for Developers and Landowners, Miller Thomson seminar, 2013
- “R. v. Dickie – Income Earned on Reserve – The Latest Developments in First Nation Taxation”, Aboriginal Law: Current Issues, Pacific Business & Law Institute seminar, 2013
- “Making Your Case Before an Administrative Tribunal”, CBA Skilled Lawyer Series III, 2013
- “Environmental Case Law Update”, Presentation for Environmental Managers Association of BC Workshop, 2012
- “Dealing with Regulatory Inspections and Investigations”, Miller Thomson Environmental seminar, 2012
- “Winning Advocacy Skills: Tips and Techniques for Appearing Before an Administrative Tribunal”, CBA Canadian Legal Conference & Expo, 2011
- “Litigation Arising Out of LEED Issues, Green Buildings: Problems, Solutions & Opportunities”, Miller Thomson seminar, 2011
- “Environmental Assessment: An Overview of Federal and BC Environmental Assessment Regimes”, Understanding Environmental Regulation, EPIC Conference, 2011
- “Regulating Renewable Energy and the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT)”, CleanTech, Green Energy and Environmental Update, Miller Thomson seminar, 2009
- “Aboriginal Rights vs. The Public Interest”, Pacific Business & Law Institute seminar, 2009
- “Feds, Frogs & Fish – Environmental Issues: Case Studies”, Understanding Aboriginal and Environmental Issues in Project Development, Miller Thomson seminar, 2008
- “Climate Change: Managing Risks and Creating Opportunities”, Climate Change: Managing Risks and Creating Opportunities in the New Carbon World, Miller Thomson seminar, 2007
- “Regulatory and Legal Issues Respecting CBM Development in Alberta and British Columbia”, Canadian Petroleum Law Foundation Conference, 2007
- Authored article: “Environmental Liability in Canada”, Annual Review of Civil Litigation, Carswell, 2011
- “SCC Ruling on Aboriginal Title: Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44 and Significant Changes to the Legal Landscape”, Aboriginal Law Update, July 2014
- Federal Budget Review, 2013
- “Environmental Law: Recent Developments of Importance”, The Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, 2013
- “Tax Court of Canada Rules on Location of Business Income For Tax Exemption Under Indian Act”, Tax Notes, November 2012
- “Greater Vancouver Regional District Proposes New Odour Management Bylaw”, EnviroNotes!, September 2012 – BC Client Alert
- “Tax Court of Canada Rules on Location of Business Income for the Purpose of Tax Exemption Under the Indian Act”, Aboriginal Law Update, July 2012
- “Injunctions Issued Against Companies for Lack of Aboriginal Consultation”, Aboriginal Law Update, March 2012
- “Case Comment – Upper Nicola Indian Band v. British Columbia (Environment), 2011 BCSC 388″, Aboriginal Law Update, June 2011
- “Due Diligence in Buying Residential Property – Beware Leaking Oil Tanks”, EnviroNotes!, May 2011
- “Tougher Environmental Enforcement Measures Now In Place”, EnviroNotes!, February 2011 – BC Client Alert
- “Report Indicates Canada Should Implement National Climate Policies Ahead of U.S.”, Miller Thomson Client Alert, 2011
- “Prosperity Mine Project Blocked by Federal Government”, EnviroNotes!, December 2010
- “Consultation Process for Proposed Emissions Trading and Offsets Regulations”, EnviroNotes!, December 2010
- “Prosperity Mine Project Blocked by Federal Government”, EnviroNotes!, November 22, 2010 – BC Client Alert
- “Case Comment – Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. v. Carrier Sekani Tribal Council”, Aboriginal Law Update, November 2010
- “Consultation Process for Proposed Emissions Trading and Offsets Regulations”, EnviroNotes!, November 3, 2010 – BC Client Alert
- “Controlling Odours in Metro Vancouver: The Ability of Regulators to Impose Controls”, EnviroNotes!, September 2010
- “West Moberly First Nations v. British Columbia (Chief Inspector of Mines), 2010 BCSC 359: Delegation to Departmental Officials Failed to Satisfy the Honour of the Crown”, EnviroNotes!, September 2010
- “Major Petroleum Spill in Johnstone Strait in Orca Sanctuary: Due Diligence Lessons for Captains and Barge Owners”, EnviroNotes!, September 2010
- “BC Introduces New Clean Energy Act”, EnviroNotes!, May 2010 – BC Client Alert
- “West Moberly First Nations v. British Columbia (Chief Inspector of Mines), 2010 BCSC 359: Delegation to Departmental Officials Failed to Satisfy the Honour of the Crown”, Aboriginal Law Update, April 2010
- “The Environmental Assessment Track – Discretion to Scope is Not Discretion to Track?”, EnviroNotes!, April 2010
- “Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Some Recent Developments in Canada”, Canadian Consulting Engineer, 2010
- “British Columbia’s Mandatory Greenhouse Emissions Reporting to Begin on January 1, 2010”, EnviroNotes!, December 2009
- “Climate Change: Carbon Tax v. Cap and Trade”, EnviroNotes!, June 2009 – BC Client Alert
- “Is Your Company Prepared for New Environmental Enforcement?”, Eco Bulletin, 2009
- “Environmental Enforcement and Compliance in BC – An Update”, EnviroNotes!, May 2009
- “Review of Federal Budget 2009: Environmental Aspects”, EnviroNotes!, Spring 2009
- “Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in BC: Obligations to Begin in Early 2009”, EnviroNotes!, Spring 2009
- “Recent Climate Change Initiatives in British Columbia”, EnviroNotes!, Fall 2008
- “The Latest Word: When Does the Duty to Consult Arise? The Dene Tha’ First Nations Case”, Aboriginal Law Update, March 2007
- “Getting a Break on Your Property Taxes for Contaminated Land – What You Need to Know:Valuation and Property Tax Implications”, 2007
- “The ‘Made in Canada’ Solution to Greenhouse Gases and the Kyoto Protocol: the Clean Air Act Introduced”, EnviroNotes!, November 2006
- Executive Member, Canadian Bar Association, National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Section
- Chair, Miller Thomson National Environmental Sustainability Committee
- Past Member-at-Large, Canadian Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, BC Branch
- Past Executive Member, Environmental Managers Association of BC
- Canadian Bar Association
- Law Society of British Columbia
- Law Society of Alberta
- Environmental Managers Association of British Columbia
- Miller Thomson National CleanTech Committee
Bar admissions & education
- Yukon Bar, 2010
- British Columbia Bar, 2005
- Alberta Bar, 2000
- LL.M., London School of Economics and Political Science, 2005
- LL.B., University of Calgary, 1999
- B.A., University of Calgary, 1995
Sarah Hansen, Troy McEachren and Kristina Shaw named 2018 Zenith Award winners
Miller Thomson Partners Sarah Hansen, Troy McEachren and Kristina Shaw are recipients of the 2018 Lexpert Zenith Awards celebrating Mid-Career Excellence. The Zenith Awards recognize lawyers across the country who excel in their area of law and in social responsibility....
Success at Federal Court of Appeal
In Reynold Dickie v. Her Majesty to Queen (2012 TCC 242), the Tax Court of Canada ruled that income from Mr. Dickie’s sole proprietorship was business income earned by an Indian under the Indian Act that is situate on reserve,...
Miller Thomson lawyers obtain $90,000 award in Tax Court of Canada.
Sarah Hansen and Kelsey Thompson of Miller Thomson Vancouver and co-counsel Robert Janes of JFK Law Corporation successfully obtained a $90,000 lump sum cost award representing 60% of the client’s solicitor and client costs that far exceeded the tariff rate...
Miller Thomson Successful on Appeal of Reassessment of Tax under the Income Tax Act for an Aboriginal Business on Reserve.
Sarah Hansen, Partner at Miller Thomson’s Vancouver office, and co-counsel Robert Janes of Janes Freedman Kyle Law Corporation, successfully appealed a reassessment that business income earned by an Indian under the Indian Act that is situated on reserve is exempt...
Sarah Hansen speaks on Indigenous Laws & the Future of Environmental Assessments
Sarah Hansen is a speaker at the CBA (BC Branch) Environmental Law & Aboriginal Law-Vancouver Joint Section Meeting. The discussion will focus on experiences, perspectives, and lessons learned on indigenous-led independent environmental assessment processes.
Agribusiness lawyers host Legal & Regulatory Review forum
Wendy Baker, Sarah Hansen, and John Tidball host the “Annual Legal and Regulatory Review” session at the Agri-Energy and Waste Management Forum in Abbotsford.
Tony Crossman and Sarah Hansen present “Monitoring GHG Emissions in BC” at Insight’s Environmental Law in BC conference.
An update on GHG emissions regulation in BC How do air emissions regulations affect oil and gas exploration companies in BC? A review of regional air emission initiatives, including the proposed Greater Vancouver odour management bylaw Do’s and don’ts...
Sarah Hansen speaks on “The Latest Developments in First Nation Taxation” at PBLI’s Aboriginal Law Conference.
Sarah Hansen speaks on “Environmental Case Updates” at the Environmental Managers Association of BC 2012 Workshop.
Tony Crossman and Sarah Hansen co-chair CLEBC’s course on “Environmental Law: Managing Risk”.
Click here for more information about this event.
Tony Crossman and Sarah Hansen speak on “Winning Advocacy Skills: Tips and Techniques for Appearing Before an Administrative Tribunal” at the CBA’s Canadian Legal Conference & Expo.
Sarah Hansen moderates a panel at the Environmental Managers’ Association of BC’s workshop on “Managing Moving Targets: Evolving Legislation and Migrating Contamination”.
Sarah Hansen speaks on “Environmental Assessment” at EPIC’s Understanding Environmental Regulations conference.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act Assessment triggers Inclusions and exclusions The Provincial EA Process Applications for projects
Project Development: Environmental and Indigenous Considerations – Vancouver
Miller Thomson’s Environmental Law Group is joined by external industry experts to present a complimentary seminar on environmental and regulatory processes, and permitting and contract procurement. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information or to register. Introduction by Keynote Speaker...
Environmental Issues in Property Development
Presented by lawyers in our Environmental and Real Estate practice groups, our seminar covers: Regulatory Framework for Dealing with Contaminated Land Environmental Considerations in Property Transactions Managing Environmental Due Diligence Investigations Special Considerations with Gas Station Properties Time: 7:30 a.m....
Environmental Issues in Agriculture
Miller Thomson presents “Environmental Issues in Agriculture.” This seminar covers: Manure Law: Regulatory Control over Nutrient Management Provincial governments across Canada have enacted regulatory schemes to control the storage and management of manures and other nutrients, in an attempt to...
Off-Site Contamination: A Primer for Developers and Landowners
Miller Thomson Vancouver presents a lunch seminar with NEXT Environmental. Topics on the agenda: Requirements for Development Permits when contamination has migrated onto City of Vancouver property Regulatory requirements for flow-through contamination Contamination underlying city streets Liability for off-site contamination and...
Responding to Environmental Inspections and Incident Investigations
Miller Thomson hosts an Environmental Law breakfast seminar with topics including: Inspections vs. investigations: what’s the difference and why does it matter? Understanding your duties during the regulator’s visit Best practices for preparing and responding to regulators while on-site Click...
Green Buildings: Problems, Solutions & Opportunities
Miller Thomson presents a complimentary breakfast seminar on green building problems and contract issues. Topics include: Contracting for green buildings – drafting and negotiating design and construction contracts for sustainable buildings Lessons from the “green trenches” Carbon taxes, carbon credits...
Climate Change Roundtable
Miller Thomson’s Vancouver Environmental Group presents a Climate Change Round table featuring guest speakers: Tim Lesiuk, Executive Director of the BC Climate Action Secretariat Scott MacDonald, CEO of the Pacific Carbon Trust
The Vancouver Office hosts a “CleanTech, Green Energy & Environmental Update” seminar on November 18.
Our keynote speaker is Paul Kluckner, Environment Canada’s Regional Director General for the Pacific and Yukon region. Other topics on the agenda include: CleanTech Opportunities Environmental Update Independent Power Producers and Wind Farm Opportunities Regulation of Renewable Energy and BC’s...
Miller Thomson is hosting a seminar on “Understanding Aboriginal & Environmental Issues in Project Development” on Nov. 13 in Vancouver.
Topics on the agenda: Aboriginal Consultation Impact Benefit Agreements Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the Consultation Process Environmental Issues
Indigenous Laws and Perspectives in Environmental Assessments
Environmental Law & Aboriginal Law-Vancouver Joint Section Meeting, CBA (BC Branch)
Review of Federal Environmental Assessment and Regulatory Processes
Miller Thomson seminar, "Project Development - Environmental and Indigenous Considerations"
Environmental Issues in Property Development
Miller Thomson seminar
Annual Legal and Regulatory Review
Agri-Energy and Waste Management Forum, Pacific Agriculture Tradeshow
SCC Ruling on Aboriginal Title: Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44 and Significant Changes to the Legal Landscape
On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) released its landmark decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia. At the heart of this decision, the SCC was confronted with the question of Aboriginal title and what constitutes a...
Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions in BC
Miller Thomson seminar: Environmental Issues in Agriculture
BC Contaminated Sites 101 and Consultants Liability
Miller Thomson seminar
GHG Emission Regulation in BC
Insight conference: Environmental Law in BC
Environmental Update – Case Law and Tribunal Decisions
Miller Thomson Seminar - Off-site Contamination: A Primer for Landowners and Developers
R. v. Dickie – Income Earned on Reserve
PBLI Conference: The Latest Developments in First Nation Taxation