FLEETWOOD — Four locals left jars of water from “threatened” coastlines outside the locked office of a Surrey MP on Friday, in an effort to voice opposition to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline project.
“We’re here to give him a gift of water from the people of the Salish Sea,” said Surrey senior Betty Hall, standing in front of Fleetwood-Port Kells MP Ken Hardie’s third-floor constituency office. “This is from Burrard Inlet… and it says ‘Water is life.’”
“This is White Rock,” chimed in White Rock resident Rob Henrichsen, who said he was one of the 28 protesters arrested on Burnaby Mountain when they blocked the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s work site.
“This jar from east beach and this from west beach,” he added.
Other water left at the door was taken from Crescent Beach, noted a woman who said she goes by the nickname “Seaweed.”
It was all in an effort to “demand that our MPs put pressure on Trudeau to stop pushing for the pipeline,” according to rally organizers with Lead Now, on a national day of action that opponents have dubbed Defend the Water.
The $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion is 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.
As some left water outside Hardie’s third-floor office on Friday, about 30 others rallied outside the building.
Some expressed disappointment that Hardie wasn’t present.
The Liberal MP had left a note for ralliers on his third-floor office door.
“My apologies for not being there to receive your delegation,” Hardie’s note read, going on to show an email thread that demonstrated his attempts to contact rally organizers ahead of the event.
Hardie wrote the rally “catches us at a moment when we will have only a volunteer and our case worker in the office; the people who would normally greet you and receive your information are away, including me due to commitments in Parliament.”
“Ideally, we would prefer that at most two people enter into our office and present the material you wish to leave behind,” his email read. “If this is agreeable to you, we should be OK. If it is not, or if I don’t hear back from you, we will close the office to ensure our volunteer and case worker are not made to feel insecure in the workplace.”
Hardie wrote: “I thoroughly respect your advocacy work and your right to register your views with me as a member of parliament. As an MP, I also have an obligation to staff and volunteers to ensure certain conditions are maintained in our workplace, and in this situation, those obligations will be the priority.”
Standing on the pavement outside his office building, ralliers expressed their opposition to the pipeline project, many holding protest signs and sporting anti-pipeline buttons.
— Amy Marie Reid (@amyreid87) March 23, 2018
“We’re here to commemorate, in a sense, world water day. Water is the single most sacred resource on the planet,” said Surrey Rex Eaton. “Virtually all lifeforms require it. Two-thirds of the human body is water. And three-quarters of our brain is water. So talk about critical. And along comes Kinder Morgan with a pipeline proposal that would cross hundreds of streams and rivers, including the salmon river nearby and of course, the Fraser. It will also run adjacent to the aquifer for the area of Chilliwack which is critical for their drinking water.”
Eaton was met with applause when he said the Salish Sea, Burrard Inlet and Puget Sound are all at risk.
“It includes our fisheries and our tourism industry, let alone the ecology of the region. Of course at the end of the day it’s all about preventing global warming,” Eaton added. “I can’t understand for a moment how the Liberals can imagine that pushing pipelines is consistent with meeting the Paris climate agreement. We’re here today to let people like Ken Hardie know that people do care in their areas. This is happening all across the country.”
Also in attendance was Steven Pettigrew, well-known for his opposition to the City of Surrey’s plans to build a road through Hawthorne Park as part of a plan to ease congestion in that area.
Pettigrew held high a sign that once read “Save Hawthorne Park” was altered to say “Save Our Water.”
“I lived in Vancouver since I was four years old, I grew up on Spanish Banks and the North Shore,” Pettigrew told the Now-Leader. “Those are very special places… The tanker traffic is supposed to triple, and all it takes is one accident. It’s not worth it. That’s why I’m out here.”
Organizers of the Surrey rally say a “massive people-powered confrontation in BC is already tarnishing Trudeau’s reputation as a progressive leader committed to climate action, coastal protection, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”
According to Fleetwood rally organizers, the tanker project “would put hundreds of rivers and streams at risk of oil spills — but a powerful movement is rising up to defend the land, water, and climate.”
Demonstrations opposing the oil pipeline expansion happened all over Canada on Friday.
At one rally in Burnaby, Green Party Leader and MP Elizabeth May, and MP Kennedy Stewart, were arrested.
On March 10, people across B.C. demonstrated both for and against the project — highlighting a clear divide within the province on the federally-approved Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
A wave of anti-pipeline protests are underway and organizers say demonstrations will continue, as Kinder Morgan prepares to log trees near its Burnaby facility.
Protesters were in Burnaby on March 16 attempting to stop construction of Kinder Morgan’s contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, just a day after a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the operator an injunction.
In videos posted to social media, demonstrators said they were standing outside the “injunction zone,” on Underhill Avenue. One woman had chained herself using metal tubing to a dump truck believed to be owned by Kinder Morgan.
The injunction against the demonstrators out is indefinite, allowing Trans Mountain to continue work it’s legally entitled to do after the federal government approved the twinning of an existing pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby in the belief it is in the best interest of Canada.
Trans Mountain has said that while protests began in November, it sought an injunction after demonstrators began intensifying their blockades recently when trees were being cleared.
On March 17, 28 protesters were arrested on Burnaby Mountain.
The next day, on March 18, anti-Trans Mountain activists took their protest south of the border on Sunday as they tried to stop a Kinder Morgan tanker in the Seattle Harbour.
According to a release from Protect the Inlet, an anti-pipeline group, 30 kayakers are out in Seattle waters trying to stop the tanker from docking at Kinder Morgan’s terminal.
The kayakers belong to the Mosquito Fleet, a group of water-based direct action fleets that try to physically block fossil fuel-related activity.
“We refuse to let Kinder Morgan turn our Salish Sea into a fossil fuel super-highway. Their operations are already unacceptably dangerous. The last thing we need is to make matters 700 per cent worse,” said Mosquito Fleet’s Zara Greene.
“Such a massive increase in oil tanker traffic would not only jeopardize communities in B.C., but in Washington as well.”
In February, a woman was arrested after chaining herself to equipment at a Kinder Morgan worksite in Coquitlam.
Alberta and British Columbia have been in a fight over the future of the project in recent weeks.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has suggested broadening the dispute by threatening to turn off the oil taps, cutting off B.C. from the current Trans Mountain pipeline.
B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman responded to Notley by saying the province will continue to defend its interests when it comes to protecting the environment.
“I see no reason for the government of Alberta to take any action when all B.C. has been doing is standing up for our interests,” he said in Victoria.
“We’re proposing some regulations that are well within our jurisdiction. We’re determined to defend our environment, our economy and our coast line.”
Heyman said B.C. would expect the dispute to be settled in court.
Construction on the project is expected to last until December 2020.
-With files from Black Press