About 200 people demonstrated outside the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel Hearings today in Kelowna after the public was once again barred from the community hearings because of unspecified safety concerns.
"The panel has become aware of information regarding safety concerns if the hearing continues as originally planned. As a result, the panel is restricting the hearing room to oral statement presenters, their guest and the media," said a statement issued by the panel.
But just like the hearings in Vancouver and Victoria, the public was permitted to watch the proceedings on a video feed in a hotel a few kilometers away.
Dylan North was one of dozens of protesters who came from all around the southern interior of B.C. with hopes of attending the hearings live.
"It doesn't really surprise me that there is just one more piece of red tape that keeps me apart from what's going on. I think that kind of the big idea is keeping the public as uninformed as possible to be honest."
Ronald Pharand also travelled from Nelson to make his views known.
"We all, of course, have the same feeling about this pipeline that a lot of other people have in B.C. — it's important to stop it."
Inside the hearing, one speaker after told the panel about their concerns with the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Teacher Ursula Lussin urged the joint review panel to reject the proposal.
'For the first time in my life I feel ashamed to be a Canadian.' — Teacher Ursula Lussin
"For the first time in my life, I feel ashamed to be a Canadian. I am embarrassed that we are not stepping up to find solutions to the climate crisis and are instead planning to make it worse," said Lussin.
The hearings move next to Prince Rupert, B.C., for ten sets of four-to-five-day hearings that will run from early February until early May. The panel's recommendations on the Northern Gateway Project are expected by the end of the year.
If approved, the almost 1,200-kilometre-long twin pipeline would carry about 525,000 barrels of bitumen per day from Alberta to the B.C. coast for shipment by tankers to Asia and other markets around the world.