The battle over Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is heating up, with protesters targeting construction at the company’s Westridge Terminal in Burnaby on Saturday.
Several dozen canoes and kayaks took to the waters of Burrard Inlet in a bid to stop construction at the facility.
“There’s about 100 people in boats and kayaks who are going to go over, and many of them said they’re going to cross the barrier line and they’ve been informed they will be arrested,” said Stand.Earth campaign director Karen Mahon on Saturday morning.
By Saturday afternoon, demonstrators said that eight people had been arrested at the site. Burnaby RCMP has not yet confirmed the arrests.
Kinder Morgan won approval to begin construction on the Westridge Terminal at the end of August.
The company plans to expand the facility to be able to load three tankers at once — up from the current one — as a part of its $7.4-billion project to triple the pipeline’s capacity.
By Saturday afternoon, protesters had declared victory, claiming the flotilla had forced workers on the company’s construction barge to give up.
Kinder Morgan disputes that claim.
In an emailed statement, spokesperson Lizette Parsons Bell said no vessels had actually been scheduled to dock at the terminal on Saturday. She went on to say the company had “adjusted” construction activities for the day for safety reasons, but that work was continuing.
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“We support the right to peacefully and lawfully express opinions and views about our project. When it comes to our operating and construction sites, safety is our first priority – safety of our workers, communities and everyone near our worksites,” Parsons Bell said.
Mahon, however, said she remains convinced protest actions will derail the controversial 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Alberta and Burnaby.
“We’ve seen that with Energy East. People protested, it was not built. We saw it with the Enbridge pipeline. People protested, it was not built. They’re going to try and build this pipeline. People are going to protest and it will not be built.”
On Thursday, the energy company filed an affidavit to the National Energy Board claiming the City of Burnaby’s failure to grant work permits has caused project delays and financial losses.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan has responded by accusing the company of attempting to pressure him to speed up regulatory approval.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was granted National Energy Board approval subject to 157 conditions in 2016, and has since won federal and provincial approval.
B.C.’s new NDP government has vowed to use “every tool” to block the project.
In August, it said the company was barred from beginning construction on public land pending final provincial approval and further consultation with First Nations.
It also hired a retired supreme court judge to advise it on legal options, and said it was looking to participate as an intervenor in a new round of hearings over the project.
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