The event started with a people’s procession in Forest Grove Park, where protesters followed the pipeline’s route down to a larger rally in Westridge Park.
“We are in the process of building a mass movement of people who are committed to stopping pipelines from the tar sands, and this was a step forward in building that movement,” said Ruth Walmsley, one of the rally organizers and a member of Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion.
Walmsley estimated there were about 300 to 400 people in total, by the time the procession joined the larger rally, and some came from as far as Galiano Island.
“We don’t want this pipeline. We do not want to assume the risk of having this oil being shipped through our community and having an increase in the amount of tanker traffic through our inlet. And the storage tank on Burnaby Mountain, we don’t want that to triple capacity,” Walmsley said.
The march had a festive, celebratory tone to it, according to Walmsley.
“There were a lot of people in costume, there was music, there were people playing guitar as we were walking,” she said. “The whole thing was really respectful. There wasn’t anybody being provocative or violent.”
As previously reported in the NOW, the people’s procession will be featured in an art exhibit at the UNIT/PITT Projects gallery in Vancouver.
At the Westridge Park rally, Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan spoke, and representatives from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation were present, as was Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart.
“There were a lot of hard words there, but they tried to make it entertaining for people, too,” said Stewart, adding that the movement against the pipeline was growing. “People are now seeing it’s a real proposal. They are seeing it’s something they don’t like. They are seeing the National Energy Board process is really tilted in favour of the companies, and they are coming together getting ready to push back at this.”
The procession then headed down Cliff Avenue, towards a flotilla of protesters on the water in the Burrard Inlet, organized by North Shore NOPE, another residents’ group against the pipeline expansion. The marchers then headed to the Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal, where tankers fill up with crude, and many left their protest signs at the site before heading back the park for the end of the rally.
Kinder Morgan operates the Trans Mountain pipeline, which has run oil from Alberta to Burnaby since the 1950s, but the company wants to twin the line and is proposing a new route through Burnaby. The move would nearly triple the system’s capacity and increase traffic on the Burrard Inlet, from five oil tankers to 34 a month. The expansion also includes plans to increase capacity at the storage terminal on Burnaby Mountain, all of which does not sit well with Walmsley.
“There’s no benefits to us, the citizens who are living here. We are assuming all of the risk for basically almost nothing. We are not willing to assume the risk and we are doing everything in our power to stop this,” she said, adding she is very committed to non-violence.
© Burnaby Now