Vancouver – A federal panel appointed to gauge opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline has found widespread public opposition in communities across BC, including Kamloops, Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley.
“All along the pipeline route we’ve heard from local residents and Indigenous people who fear for their health, their land and their water because a toxic tar sands spill could destroy their way of life,” said Peter McCartney, climate campaigner at the Wilderness Committee. “At each stop, communities have also raked the panel over the coals for its lack of notice and accessibility.”
In Kamloops, Councillor Donovan Cavers expressed outrage that he only found out about the meeting through Facebook and Chief Judy Wilson of Neskonlith told the panel they had breached cultural protocol by not inviting Secwepemc leaders. At Fraser Valley meetings leaders railed against the lack of notice and information.
“It’s a miracle we’ve seen the strong numbers we have at these meetings given how hard it has been for the public to find out about and get to them, often during working hours and in the middle of summer vacations,” said McCartney. “It shows just how much this issue matters to the people, which is not surprising as they are the ones facing the risk.”
The public meetings on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion take place against the backdrop of a catastrophic spill in Saskatchewan, which has shown residents’ worst pipeline fears can come true.
“All this time we’ve been saying there’s no way to clean up a tar sands spill and now we see that playing out in the North Saskatchewan River,” said McCartney. “We cannot let this happen to the Fraser River or the Salish Sea. The stakes here are enormous.”
At each stop, opponents stressed the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to halt the expansion of the tar sands.
“That’s been the elephant in the room this whole time,” said McCartney. “The reality is that we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground for a healthy global climate.”