Kat Roivas, who is opposed to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, stands at an access gate at the company’s property near an area where work is taking place, in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday April 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Ongoing protests behind halting of Trans Mountain expansion: activists

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley promises “serious economic consequences” for B.C.

Protesters who have loudly voiced their opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are taking credit for Kinder Morgan Canada’s decision to pause work on the controversial project.

“Every day the protests continue, it gets harder and harder to imagine (the pipeline) going ahead,” said Karen Mahon, campaigns director with the environmental group Stand.Earth.

Kinder Morgan announced Sunday that it had suspended all non-essential activities and related spending on the pipeline’s expansion project.

Related: B.C. blasted for Trans Mountain pipeline tactics

It followed another demonstration at a work site in Burnaby, B.C., Saturday, where Indigenous leaders, environmentalists and others have gathered in recent weeks to show their opposition to the $7.4 billion project.

The timing was no accident, said Chief Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

“Opposition continues to grow as people learn of the devastating effects this pipeline expansion would have,” Wilson said in a statement. “This should be a warning to all investors: you must respect Indigenous title and rights, or your projects have no certainty.”

Ottawa approved Trans Mountain’s expansion in 2016 and the former B.C. Liberal government gave its approval in 2017, but protesters have said the project violates First Nations rights and would increase the risk of oil spills off B.C.’s coast.

Related: B.C., Alberta clash as Kinder Morgan suspends Trans Mountain work

Demonstrations began shortly after plans for the expansion were announced and have gained momentum since, said Mike Hudema, a campaigner with Greenpeace Canada.

“When they saw Kinder Morgan beginning to start construction, they saw the immediacy and the need to act. And that’s what people did,” he said.

Public resistance is likely what swayed the most prominent opponent of the project, the NDP government, said Cam Fenton with climate justice group 350.org.

“I think the continuously growing and escalating protests from day one played no small role in helping to make sure that the B.C. government, once it was elected this past year, came out in opposition to it,” he said.

Kinder Morgan has said its decision to suspend the project is based on the provincial government’s opposition.

Demonstrations and civil disobedience have shown just how far people are willing to go to stop the project from being built, Fenton said.

In March, thousands of people voiced their opposition in the streets of Burnaby, the city at the end of the pipeline in B.C.

“There was a pretty big indication that we had tapped into what is a growing and vibrant movement in B.C. to protect these waters,” Hudema said.

Last month, a B.C. Supreme Court judge issued an injunction prohibiting protests from within five metres of two work sites in Burnaby, but the demonstrations have continued with some people blocking the gates to Kinder Morgan’s facilities.

Police have arrested about 200 people around the Trans Mountain facilities since mid-March, including Green party Leader Elizabeth May and New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart.

Mahon with Stand.Earth said the continued resistance shows how strongly people oppose the project.

“The fact that people are willing to risk, put themselves on the line to support the Indigenous call for resistance is really touching. People are really brave,” she said.

But activists know their work isn’t over yet.

Kinder Morgan has said the company will consult with “various stakeholders” to try and reach an agreement by May 31 that might allow Trans Mountain to proceed.

Mahon, Hudema and Fenton all expect to see more protests in the coming weeks, targeting not only Kinder Morgan, but federal politicians who continue to support the project.

“People recognize that this isn’t the end, but it could be the beginning of the end,” Fenton said. ”Kinder Morgan’s decision is a sign that organizing action and people power works and I think that will continue to grow.”

Related: Chiefs join anti-pipeline protests in Burnaby

Companies in this story: (TSX:KML)

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Heritage Surrey launches time-lapse mapping tool

It matches local historical images to modern-day locations

UPDATE: Delta man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Surrey RCMP asks for public’s help finding missing 52-year-old

Police say William Michaels last seen on Feb. 19

Private school for hockey players pitched for Surrey’s Excellent Ice arena

Lark Group draws up expansion plan for facility built and operated by the Surrey company since 1999

From a drunk judge to Clifford Olson: George Garrett recounts a life in B.C. news radio

New book from ‘Intrepid Reporter’ George Garrett offers readers a glimpse behind the headlines

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Two boys saved after falling through ice in Coquitlam

RCMP say a Good Samaritan pulled the kids to safety

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Man wanted for sex trafficking, confinement may be heading to B.C.

Kevin Myrthil, 26, is also accused of assault on a 19-year-old woman at an Edmonton hotel

Finalists announced for 2019 Surrey Women in Business Awards

The winners will be announced on Wednesday, March 13 at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel

Most Read