Thousands of activists and residents gathered outside Vancouver City Hall on Saturday afternoon to protest the potential Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline expansion.
Protesters eventually marched across the Cambie Street Bridge toward Library Square in downtown Vancouver.
The federal government is expected to make a decision regarding the controversial pipeline by mid-December, and protesters are demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shut down the plans.
However, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said they believe the project will get the green light.
“From what we’ve been hearing through the grapevine, we’re anticipating Prime Minister Trudeau to approve the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline project, as early as Nov. 22,” Phillip said during the protest.
“It should be noted that the premier, the opposition – the NDP’s John Horgan – the mayors of Vancouver, Burnaby, Victoria, are all steadfastly opposed to the TransMountain pipeline project for good reason.”
He added the risks of the expansion are too great to outweigh the “negligible” returns for B.C.
The expansion would twin the existing pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby and increase its capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. It would also mean an increase in tanker traffic from the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burrard Inlet from five to 34 per month.
Opponents argue the expansion would increase the chance of an oil spill on land or in coastal waters, disrupting the local economy and destroying sensitive ecosystems.
The last major spill in Metro Vancouver from the TransMountain pipeline occurred in Burnaby in 2007. About 250,000 litres of oil spilled when city workers accidentally struck the pipeline on Inlet Drive.
About 70,000 litres poured into Burrard Inlet through the Burnaby storm sewer system, and 250 local residents were evacuated from their homes.