Reported by Emelie Peacock
Anti-pipeline activists and First Nations groups say the fight to stop pipeline expansion isn’t over, despite federal approval of the polemical Kinder Morgan project.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the significant economic benefits of the pipeline expansion, which runs from Alberta to B.C., could not be ignored.
Environmental costs outweigh economic benefits
Protesters who have been adamant that the environmental costs outweigh the economic benefits say they won’t give up the fight. Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said First Nations groups and activists will take their opposition to the streets.
“Trudeau is going to find out what social licence actually looks like and feels like, both on the streets and in the courts,” Chamberlin said.
First announced in 2012, the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project aims to build a 1,150 km pipeline to transport oil from Edmonton to Burnaby.
Rodrigo Samayoa, environmental campaigner with Leadnow, said groups across the Lower Mainland are organizing to mount protest actions.
“You will see Standing Rock 2.0 to be honest,” said Samayoa. “First Nations are starting to organize, communities are starting to organize.”
First Nations groups divided about the pipeline
While several First Nations communities are supporting Kinder Morgan, others are fundamentally opposed. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, whose traditional territory encompasses the city of Vancouver and Burnaby, is clear that despite the prime minister’s approval Tuesday, opposition to the pipeline is not done.
“I’m standing here telling you I’m still opposing the project. I’m making decisions for my grandchildren that are in the best way 30 years from now,” said Charlene Aleck, elected council for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
Gavin McGarrigle, BC Area Director for Unifor, a Canadian union representing the workers of a Chevron oil refinery, said he doubts the pipeline will ever be built.
“We don’t see it ever getting built because we think there are … lots of people in British Columbia, who will do anything it takes to make sure this doesn’t go ahead,” he said.