Downtown protest draws thousands
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
The library square hosted thousands of protesters on November 19, who were there to oppose the continuation of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The expansion would twin a second pipeline to the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, owned and operated by Kinder Morgan, in order to transport up to three times the amount of oil that the current pipeline does. Overall, it would cost $6.8 million to complete.
Those opposing the project are placing increasing pressure on the federal government, who have until December 19 to make a decision on whether or not the project will proceed.
The expansion comes with a list of risks and concerns. One of those concerns would be working with Aboriginal land titles that intersect with where the pipeline is laid—between Edmonton, through Kamloops, Sumas, Burnaby, and terminating at Port Metro. Allegedly, Kinder Morgan has not been enthusiastic in speaking with Aboriginal communities about their projects in the past.
An addition, the Trans Mountain pipeline also brings up a growing list of environmental concerns. While a pipeline is arguably one of the safest methods of transporting oil, it is not flawless. Since 2005, there have been four oil spills due to human error on the Trans Mountain pipeline, and environmentalists are concerned that tripling the pipeline’s capacity could have tragic results.
Some may speculate that it is seeming like the federal Liberals may go on to approve the project, because of the creation of a national oil spill response plan. The Canadian government may soon see increased pressure to approve pipeline projects in the future, especially with an incoming American government who is allegedly in favor of an oil-based economy.
One of the many opposing voices belongs to Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.
“Putting a much bigger pipeline and seven times the oil tankers into the waters around Vancouver would be a direct threat and potential massive economic impact on Canada and Vancouver in particular,” Robertson said to CBC.
Another opposing governing official is Liberal Port Coquitlam-Coquitlam MP Rob McKinnon, who has been opposed to the pipeline even before he was elected in 2015.
“I think the problem here is that risks don’t match the benefits. There are benefits absolutely, but the potential risks are catastrophic. Even though the likelihood of a spill from a tanker is fairly low, the consequences of that spill would be enormous,” McKinnon explained to CBC.
Both Robertson and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that approving such a project without more consultation could have disastrous results for the federal Liberals.
“The message to Justin Trudeau is clear from British Columbians: this is a line in the sands, you do not cross this and think you’ll ever elect a Liberal MP in British Columbia ever again,” May said to CTV.