Protest standoff unfolds near Kinder Morgan's Burnaby facility
'It won't be the end of these kinds of actions,' pipeline critic says as RCMP try to talk protester down Wednesday.
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An anti-pipeline protester refused to get off the roof of an illegally parked camper Wednesday afternoon on Burnaby Mountain, preventing the city from towing it away from near Kinder Morgan's oil tank farm.
Members of Burnaby RCMP detachment unsuccessfully attempted to talk her down, warning police could return to arrest her, potentially leading to a judge banning her from the area altogether.
"The last thing police want to do is arrest you," Sgt. Dave Smith, with the RCMP's Division Liaison Team, told her during the confrontation. "I want to make sure you're safe up there … Is there anything I can say to convince you to come down?"
Identifying herself as Uni Urchin, the Vancouver woman said the trailer has been at the roadside location for two months as part of a "surveillance" encampment Camp Cloud.
"Water," she replied, "is sacred and is under attack and we need to protect it … I'm going to stay here and we will stop Kinder Morgan together. I'm here on top of this trailer and you can't remove me."
A tow truck the city sent to remove the trailer eventually unhitched and left the scene after police failed to talk Urchin down.
A series of early-morning protests by a different group of activists have attempted for several weeks to block construction workers from entering Kinder Morgan's nearby Westridge Terminal, where work is underway to expand the tanker facility.
Neither Kinder Morgan or the City of Burnaby — which publicly opposes the pipeline construction work but was overruled by the National Energy Board — could be reached for comment by press time, but Smith said his team of protest negotiators were accompanying a city bylaw enforcement.
On its website, Kinder Morgan said its terminal and pipeline construction would "make every effort to minimize impact to landowners and neighbours" as well as "to minimize potential disruption or environmental impact."
The federal government approved the pipeline expansion on Nov. 29, 2016. The 1,150-kilometer route would cross B.C. from Alberta's oil sands, nearly tripling oil flow along much of its existing pipeline route and increasing tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet sevenfold.
Another ongoing protest is currently underway in B.C.'s Interior, on Secwepemc Nation territories near Kamloops. A group of Indigenous people calling themselves Tiny House Warriors have begun installing 10 mobile wood trailers along the planned pipeline route, which organizer Kanahus Manuel told Metro in November the project was “a glimpse of what is to come."
Supporter Harjap Grewal, an organizer with the Council of Canadians, was at the site of the Burnaby standoff Wednesday afternoon, which his group had informally supported with firewood delivery.
"It's been realy low-key, there hasn't been a ton of awareness of the camp even being here yet." he told Metro. "But even if the camp is taken down, it won't be the end of these kinds of actions and mobilizations in the future.
"In most people's minds, Kinder Morgan does not have a mandate to buid the pipeline — not from the general public, not from people living in this area, and not from the Indigenous community."
Correction (Jan. 11): An earlier version of this story misspelled the protester's name; she identified herself as Uni Urchin.