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

Barley Mill Brew Pub adds second event for fundraiser for Willowbrook mother with cancer

Tickets to the dinner event on April 6 sold out, added a lunch event the same day

Armchair Book Club: Kate Atkinson’s Transcription stands well among her work

Heather Allen is a columnist for the Penticton Western News

League championship for Okanagan middle school

KVR Express boys basketball team wins league championship over Summerland Middle School

Top 5 unique accommodations on Airbnb in Penticton and area

Whether you’re looking for seclusion, charm or luxury, these venues have you covered for your stay

Column: Why your next vehicle might be electric

First Things First Okanagan column: Meeting the climate challenge

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Four people displaced by Taylor Road fire

The Kelowna Fire Department say no one wass injured and the cause of the fire is not suspicious

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

Okanagan woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vernon road closed again following landslide

The road that was reopened Thursday morning was closed again Friday following geotechnical engineer report.

Most Read