Arrests of protesters in Burnaby for standing up to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion over the weekend could have ramifications in Chilliwack.
“What has been happening in Burnaby should give pause to other communities along the Kinder Morgan Pipeline,” said Michael Hale, resident of Chilliwack and member of the PIPE UP Network, who was on-site before the arrests began.
“Kinder Morgan appears to be charging ahead without considering the community’s needs. Many people who live in Chilliwack have questions about what might be at risk if Kinder Morgan’s expansion plan were to go ahead.”
He said some of the questions have to do with risks that a pipeline spill would have on the Sardis-Chilliwack aquifer or schools located near the pipeline.
Concern has been expressed about the Vedder River Salmon Management Area, which is crossed by the pipeline, and the resources available to Chilliwack’s emergency responders.
Do they have the training to deal with the spilled bitumen fuel?
“Kinder Morgan does not seem to be taking residents’ concerns seriously about the risks,” added Hale.
In 2013 FVRD and Chilliwack residents raised the alarm about a proposal to run the pipeline route through Cheam Lake Wetlands. The company backed off on that scenario, he noted, but now they are looking to go through Bridal Veil Falls Park.
“What if they take the same approach to that park as they are currently taking to Burnaby Mountain?” asks Hale.
Greater awareness of the Burnaby situation is in part because of growing alarm about global climate change in general, said Eddie Gardner, a Skwah First Nation elder and wild salmon activist.
“The consciousness of the people has been raised a few notches because of the Burnaby situation,” Gardner said, adding that he was there last week.
There’s been a corresponding increase in the level of discussion and mobilization in Chilliwack as well.
“A lot of it revolves around the possibility of a spill and the catastrophic consequences to the water table, to wild salmon runs and more.
“With that, along with growing awareness of how dangerous global warming and our reliance on fossil fuels is, I think people are going to continue mobilizing and further questioning what Kinder Morgan is doing.”
Several people from Chilliwack have made the trek to Burnaby to show solidarity with the 50 protesters who have been arrested.
“It shows people are ready to take a stand or engage in civil disobedience to protect B.C. from a major disaster like an inevitable spill would be.
“There is so much at stake, and I think people are coming alive to that reality more than ever.”
See more about PIPE UP at pipe-up.net