Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations took to the seas to protest the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, canoeing from Ambleside to Cates Park to showcase the sanctity of the ocean.
“The risks associated with this are way to high. We want to grow the economy, but we need to be sustainable,” said Tsleil-Waututh chief Justin George. “A lot of the press have been on the Enbridge proposal, but there’s been very little education on this.”
Kinder Morgan has proposed spending four billion dollars to twin its Trans Mountain Pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, increasing its capacity from 300,000 to 750,000 barrels per day. Construction would take two years, and environmentalists and first nation groups have raised concerns of its impact.
Much like the proposed Enbridge pipeline, the B.C. government has said that Kinder Morgan should increase its investment in oil-spill prevention before they will support the project and have also asked for a larger share of revenue to compensate any costs from a spill.
The NDP have said they will delay taking a stand on the project until a formal application is made.
But Chief George said that even with extra compensation, the threat of a spill is too great to risk the natural environment in the area.
“As a young boy, we could harvest the clams in the Burrard Inlet. Today, the toxin levels are so high that it’s inedible,” he said. “We’re worried about supertankers and the impact they could have.”
The wind was rough and the talk was tough as the two groups made their way across the Inlet, taking two hours to reach Cates Park before they signed a declaration and had a feast.
“We’re as diverse in culture as we are in landscape, and this proposal would make Vancouver an oil port city,” he said. “You hear the same talk time and time again about state of the art technology, but it’s shown over time that human error is inevitable.
“The people reside here have an obligation to speak up … the real benefits aren’t here. The real benefits are at the tarsands, to Alberta, to Kinder Morgan shareholders, and to China.”
Kinder Morgan is not expected to submit its final application for the pipeline until late 2013.
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