Protesters clash with Kinder Morgan surveyors on Burnaby Mountain

SFU professor Stephen Collis (above) is one of the five protesters charged in the injunction.
SFU professor Stephen Collis (above) is one of the five protesters charged in the injunction.

Protesters continue to clash with Kinder Morgan over a proposed pipeline route that would expand the project through the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area and Burnaby Mountain Park.

Kinder Morgan has now filed an injunction against five individual protesters, demanding that they allow them access to two testing sites. The company is also suing these individuals for $5.5 million in direct costs and $88 million in lost revenue for Trans Mountain for each month that the project is delayed.

This confrontation follows the National Energy Board’s (NEB) ruling on October 23, which stated that the City of Burnaby cannot stand in the way of Kinder Morgan’s plan to test at sites on Burnaby Mountain. The energy company announced on October 24 that they would resume testing after 48 hours.

In response, protesters worked over the weekend to reinforce two blockades which have been present on both sites for the past month. Stephen Collis, an SFU professor of English and spokesperson for the protesters said on Monday, “We’re going to peacefully and non-violently stand in their way.”

On Wednesday morning at approximately 10:00 a.m., protesters spotted Kinder Morgan crews advancing into the woods towards the first testing site. Protesters, journalists, and film crews rushed to the site where self-proclaimed caretakers were already blocking crews by linking arms.

One young protester pinned himself under a Kinder Morgan jeep, saying oil was destroying the earth and that he would stay under the jeep for “as long it takes.”

Some minutes later, the surveyors left the site. In an e-mail to the Vancouver Observer, Greg Toth, senior project director of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project said, “At some locations, our crews were obstructed and have left for the day.”

The company is also suing these individuals for $5.5 million in direct costs and $88 million in lost revenue

For professsor of molecular biology and biochemistry, Lynne Quarmby, this was a victory for the people. “We put out the call, we let people know that we were going to be here, and it’s just phenomenal the number of people that are still pouring in, so there’s just a tremendous amount of support from the community,” she said.

When asked what she thought the next few days would bring, Quarmby replied, “We expect that they’re going to try to outwait us, but [. . .] I don’t think you can overestimate the commitment of this group of people. We will outwait them.”

The repulsion of Kinder Morgan crews only brought a short reprieve from the pressure, however, as the company filed their injunction on Thursday afternoon.

In the application, the company asks that the court “restrain the defendants’ trespass upon Burnaby Lands, and their wrongful obstruction, impeding, interfering with and prevention of” its field work on the mountain.

In a press release Friday morning, Collis and Quarmby, along with Alan Dutton of  Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE), wrote, “The US-based corporation has the audacity to claim residents are ‘trespassing’ in the park. Clearly, Kinder Morgan is using the courts to silence opposition, suppress dissent, and deprive Canadian citizens of their constitutional rights.

“This is Big Oil against the people, in its most raw and offensive form.”

The hearing took place on Friday at 2:00 p.m. at the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver where protesters gathered to oppose the injunction. The case was adjourned until Wednesday November 5, and the hearing is expected to last three days.

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  1. Tomorrow at 8:15am you can support the Burnaby five by showing up to the law courts in solidarity @ The Law Courts – 800 Smithe St. Vancouver. Or you can email President Petter asking for him to release a letter of support for the SFU profs & students. Or you could donate to their legal fund, or you could go to the November 13th Rally.