August 5, 2019 7:59 pm

‘This is just the beginning’: Anti-pipeline protesters return to Burnaby Mountain

Protesters gather outside the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, B.C. against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Aug. 5, 2019.

Global News

Dozens of protesters returned to Burnaby Mountain Monday to renew the fight against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, vowing to not leave until the project is cancelled for good.

Construction was approved to resume at the two B.C. terminals Thursday, after the federal government gave the expansion the green light for the second time this summer.

The demonstrators who gathered outside the Westridge Marine Terminal said neither of those decisions will sway them.

WATCH: NEB gives go-ahead for some construction on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to resume

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“We don’t have any choice,” one man who identified himself as Bill said.

“The climate crisis is not over, so as long as the climate crisis is going on we have to fight.”

Another man who did not give his name was confident the group will soon be joined by several others.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “There’s going to be very fierce opposition from communities all along the route, people here in Burnaby and people all around the world, I think.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline construction to resume in Burnaby after NEB approval

“Once people understand the situation here, that this has been forced through against their will, they’ll be pulling their money out of the tar sands [in Alberta]. That’s what we’ll likely see.”

The protest was organized by members of several local grassroots groups, including Mountain Protectors, Climate Convergence and BROKE (Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion).

The National Energy Board (NEB) is allowing work to resume in Burnaby and in other parts of B.C. after finding Trans Mountain had continued to meet pre-construction conditions set in 2018.

WATCH: (Aired June 2) Burnaby mayor takes pipeline safety concerns to the prime minister

That was before the Federal Court of Appeal halted the work last year, ruling the federal government had not properly consulted with First Nations.

Following the ruling, the government restarted consultations with 117 Indigenous stakeholders, while the NEB also reopened hearings on the project.

In February, the NEB recommended Ottawa reapprove the controversial $7.5-billion project, which the Liberal government did earlier this summer after weeks of delays.

READ MORE: Burnaby mayor says city’s pipeline concerns have been ignored, talked over

Trans Mountain had initially requested for work at all terminals to resume on Monday, but the exact start date is not yet clear. The company told Global News it expects to release more information soon.

Monday’s demonstrators said local First Nations have not consented to the pipeline or expanded terminal infrastructure in Burnaby, and plan to keep pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Why would our Indigenous people invest in an economy when it’s not about Mother Earth, when it’s not about our water or our children,” one speaker asked the crowd to cheers and pounding drums. “I want to invest in our well-being and ensure there is a future for all humankind.”

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets green light to proceed

The pipeline expansion is set to triple the amount of bitumen flowing from Alberta to B.C. after twinning an existing pipeline between the two provinces.

Marine tanker traffic will triple as more vessels arrive at the Burnaby terminal to load crude oil destined for overseas markets.

The City of Burnaby has voiced its opposition to the expansion, with Mayor Mike Hurley promising to keep fighting the federal government’s decision.

WATCH: (Aired July 12) Trudeau visits Trans Mountain terminal in Edmonton

Hurley has also said his constituents’ safety concerns over the expansion have been ignored, and brought those concerns to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this summer.

Last year, more than 200 protesters were arrested on Burnaby Mountain before the project was halted. Burnaby RCMP had no comment about Monday’s protest.

Demonstrators on Monday said they were prepared for whatever happens next.

“This is going to be a long fight,” one unnamed protester said.

“There’s no real action coming from government, so it’s up to grassroots organizers, students, people from all walks of life to take up the responsibility that government isn’t taking on.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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