VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Protesters gathered in Burnaby Saturday for what’s being called one of the biggest rallies against the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to date. People came from across Metro Vancouver, and protested around Burnaby from 10am to 3pm, promising to do whatever possible to keep the expansion out of your backyard.
More than fourteen environmental organizations and communities were present for the rally. One of the organizers, Ben West with ForestEthics says around 500 people showed up–something he hopes shows the Federal Government and Kinder Morgan expanding the existing pipeline is a bad idea.
Janice Edmonds with North Shore No Pipeline Expansion stresses the point is to send a strong message to the Trans Mountain Pipeline company that an expansion going through Metro Vancouver residential areas, parks and streets cannot be allowed to happen.
“We cannot have a pipeline and that many tankers going through the middle of the most populated area in Western Canada. It’s not safe, the risk is too high,” says Edmonds, adding the pipeling will bring hundreds of tankers to coastal waters carrying diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands.
It’s misleading to call the expansion a twinning, says Edmonds: “They are building a whole new pipeline through Burnaby with a whole new route going right through possibly. They won’t even confirm the route. They want the pipeline to be approved, and then they will decide where exactly the route will be which is really not fair.”
West echoes that sentiment, saying environmental groups have yet to hear from Kinder Morgan, or the Federal Government. That’s not sitting well with locals according to West.
“For many years hundreds if not thousands of people have come up to me to say ‘when do I chain myself up.’ I hope it doesn’t come to that,” says West, adding Burnaby’s Mayor Derek Corrigan has vowed he will lay down in front of pipeline machinery if the project goes through.
At Saturday’s event, when the crowd was asked by a speaker how many people had applied for intervenor status for the National Energy Board Hearings on the pipeline project, dozens of protesters raised their hands. When asked again how many had been approved, only a fraction of people’s hands remained in the air. The NEB website says they are currently reviewing more than 2100 applications.
West promises there will be more rallies to come. “If they try to push this project through, I think it’s quite possible that this could make the standoff in Clayoquot Sound look like a walk in the park… I can tell you that there’s many thousands of people that are dedicated to the protection of our coast, the protection of the Fraser River, the protection of their communities. They’re really going to do whatever is necessary I’m sure to make sure this project isn’t able to proceed.”
In 1993, nearly 11-thousand protesters came to Clayoquot Sound and formed blockades every day for three months, preventing logging workers from getting to work sites. Dozens of protesters were arrested during what is considered the biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. The area is now preserved under a provincial protection plan.
As for Kinder Morgan’s project, West says on May 10th, The National Day of Action on Climate Change, there will be another anti-pipeline rally at Sunset beach right next to English Bay. “We’re hoping this is the biggest rally we’ve ever had in the province.” West adds the issue of pipelines in BC is as black and white as the Orca Whales that swim along British Columbia’s coast.