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

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

North Coast First Nation chief says one major oil spill could ruin economy forever

Chief Marilyn Slett of Heiltsuk Nation near Bella Bella is leading a delegation in Ottawa this week

How to decide what to vote for in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots are due at Elections BC on Friday, Dec. 7, at 4:30 p.m.

Northern Health investigates racist posts of possible employee

Facebook comments call for segregated health authorities

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Omar Khadr to ask for Canadian passport to travel, permission to speak to sister

He spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15

One of Tori Stafford’s killers transferred to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on America’s request

Most Read