While the pipeline dispute battle lines have been drawn in the political arena, British Columbians spent their Saturdays also making their stances heard – highlighting a clear divide within the province on the federally-approved Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Two demonstrations in the Lower Mainland – an anti-pipeline protest organized by Coast Salish members and a pro-pipeline rally organized by Resource Works – drew hundreds to the respective causes.
At the centre of the debates displayed Saturday: A $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion set to nearly triple the flow of multipurpose oil from Alberta to B.C.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved the Kinder Morgan project in 2016, but the pipeline has since faced permit fights and challenges from the B.C. government.
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And both sides Saturday argued economic, environmental and cultural factors are at stake.
In Burnaby, where Indigenous leaders led more than 4,000 people from Lake City Way SkyTrain to the two Trans Mountain terminals, signs were waved with messages reading “No consent, no pipeline,” and “Oil $pills are forever.”
Organizers of that protest, called Protect the Inlet, said they’re hoping their tactics delays Kinder Morgan’s tree-clearing work, which is set to be completed by March 26, as part of the initial ground-breaking for the pipeline.
Meanwhile, in Vancouver, political leaders and activists rallied with several hundred pipeline supporters – some who travelled from Alberta to take part.
There, those who gathered – calling themselves the “silent majority” – heard Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, Calgary Foothills MLA Prasad Panda speak on the 51 First Nation communities who have to come agreements of support with Kinder Morgan.
Bernard Hancock, born in North Vancouver but an employee at an oil patch in Alberta for the past two-and-a-half-years, told demonstrators that his job in the oil industry was the first to ever give him a sense of dignity.
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“I could save money, get ahead, make my parents proud and feel like I was making a difference, I was getting ahead. Oil and gas gave that to me,” he said.
Political feud between Alberta and B.C. left to the courts: Heyman
NOTE: The story has been updated to correctly reflect Bernard Hancock’s employment.
With files from The Canadian Press
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