Protestors rally against pipeline project
It was unseasonably warm Saturday when more than 300 people rallied against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and climate change at Westridge Park.
The rally was a waypoint in a march that started earlier at Forest Grove Park. It roughly followed about six kilometres of the planned route of the pipeline through North Burnaby to the Westridge Marine Terminal. That's where the protestors were headed to culminate their procession, linking up with a flotilla of like-minded people aboard boats in Burrard Inlet.
But first they caught their breath, and a lot of sun, at the park, which is only a stone's throw from homes and gardens that were coated in crude oil when Kinder Morgan's pipeline was pierced by a construction crew working on Hastings Street in 2007.
The event was organized by Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion (BROKE), but attracted representatives from a range of environmental groups like the Vancouver Ecosocialist Group to the Wilderness Committee, Sustainable SFU and even the Vancouver Folk Song Society.
Many carried signs that said "Big oil is killing us," or "Clean water worth more to us over dirty oil." Some wore costumes. One had black charcoal smeared over his face and arms to symbolize an oil slick.
Kennedy Stewart, the Member of Parliament for Burnaby-Douglas, said the rally sends a strong message to the National Energy Board as it prepares to begin public hearings into Kinder Morgan's application to expand its oil pipeline from northern Alberta to Burnaby.
"It's the people of the community standing up and saying we're going to be listened to," said Stewart, who's been an outspoken critic of the pipeline project. "There's no more fooling the public."
Stewart cited the ever-changing route Kinder Morgan plans to build the pipeline as evidence the public opposition is having an effect.
"The route has been changed four times," said Stewart. "We're getting to them. We're going to keep doing it."
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and some councillors also attended the rally. Corrigan said it's important for local governments to speak up.
"The more support you can get from local governments, that voice becomes louder and harder to ignore," said Corrigan. "We're not prepared to accept the potential of environmental disasters."
Corrigan said that's just what would happen if the pipeline burst, or there was an accident at Kinder Morgan's storage tank farm on the slopes of Burnaby Mountain, which will also be tripled in capacity. He said it's "the worst place to have a tank farm."
But for Lucas Fleming and Andrew Burden, who are both 12 years old, the issue is more personal. They attend Confederation Park elementary school and they said they're afraid the pipeline will run. underneath the path they walk to school and near their homes.
"It'll run right were we live, learn and play," said Fleming.