There is a struggle in my residential area over the expansion of a petroleum pipeline and terminal facility. It is intense. Here is a report.
I produce a quarterly neighbourhood newsletter. I wrote this article for it last week, publishing it today.
PIPELINE CONFLICT INTENSIFIES
Kinder Morgan (KM) persists with its pipeline, berth and storage expansion, so opponents step up their activities. With the public already well-informed, civil disobedience and legal challenges are the strategies.
Over100 protesters have been detained so far, though few charges have been laid.
Last year, both sides put on the political pressure and worked on public awareness. It became a major BC election issue and anti-pipeline expansion proponents went all out to support the parties who took their side. Now the NDP-Green coalition minority government of BC is seeing to an environmental assessment while the federal government has dug in its heels to support the expansion.
Given the recalcitrance of both KM and the feds despite mounting concerns, some equally as recalcitrant factions among their opponents have been holding more street actions. Over the winter, early morning street protests began at the KM office on Shellmont Street. An activist parked a camper and tents were later put up in the woods by Squint Lake Park and Burnaby Golf Course on Shellmont, which they call Camp Cloud, so that 24/7 vigilance of the tank farm could be kept up. Protesters there began attempting to block vehicles, with some success. The RCMP were mostly nice about it, except they tried to execute a warrant versus the camper on Jan. 11.
There was also an action on the waters facing the KM berthing pier, in kayaks and canoes.
The RCMP tolerated the protests and blockades that began on the roads near Westridge Terminal (WT) in the new year, though there were a few arrests on Jan. 11 and 18. Intending to force KM to postpone the expansion further, numerous trucks, contractors and employees were delayed at Bayview and Inlet, and Cliff and Hastings for an hour or two most mornings, week after week. KM got tougher, hiring more guards to try to scare protesters and call police after the mobilization increased to counter the felling of many trees. Finally, it got a court injunction to keep activists 50 m. away, just in time for the mass walk of thousands from Lake City Skytrain Station to WT on March 10. Those marchers did not heed the injunction. That is the day a cabin, the Watch House, was set up on the south slope of Burnaby Mtn.
A spill of fuel from the HMCS Calgary in Georgia Strait on Feb.18 was alarming.
On Mar. 14, the BC Supreme Court threw out the injunction, the requests to close Camp Cloud and the Watch House, and charges against the two persons arrested in January. However, it issued a new injunction prohibiting protesters from approaching closer than 5m.
Emboldened and feeling more urgency, a large contingent confronted vehicles KM on Bayview St. on March 20 when a man climbed aboard a utility truck carrying a backhoe to stop it until armed RCMP officers forced him down and arrested him and some others blocking the road. A hearing was held two days later. Regardless, a mix of activists gathered and invited the press to mark World Water Day on Mar. 22. Also, the Protect the Inlet group, who led the Mar. 10 walk, pledged to meet at WT daily from 9 to 10 a.m. Dogwood Initiative joined Protect the
Inlet to demonstrate at the offices of MPs on Mar. 23, the day when two MPs defended activists who had chained themselves to the KM northside mountain site that morning. Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, her fellow MP and 25 others were arrested in the eye of TV cameras, just before nature unleashed a hailstorm.
As well, there is a campaign to push the Toronto Dominion bank to divest from the KM expansions. Claiming a loss of $1b. due to protests, KM has filed a slap suit against all protesters (15 named, plus 100s of J. Doe’s). According to Energy Mix (e-digest, Feb. 18), however, there have been suspicions that KM mislead investors by presuming an construction start date of 9-2018 prior to state approvals.