Anti-pipeline activists held a colourful protest outside B.C. Supreme Court, as Kinder Morgan attempts to stop demonstrators opposing its survey work on Burnaby Mountain.
- Full CBC coverage of Kinder Morgan
- Kinder Morgan goes to court to stop pipeline protesters
- Burnaby Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline protester chains himself under SUV
The energy giant is in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Wednesday seeking an injunction to stop the protesters, and suing five people for close to $6 million for their part in opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline and terminal expansion.
Meanwhile, the protesters — outfitted in vibrant hues — are trying to prevent Kinder Morgan from conducting survey work on the area's municipal park, Burnaby Mountain — the company's preferred route for the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
'The [law]suit being brought...is an attack on democracy' - Stephen Collis, protest spokesperson
Protest spokesperson Stephen Collis says the group, called the Caretakers, has already raised $40,000 from 600 separate donors for legal costs, and has the support from 100 environmental and labour organizations.
"This pipeline is not in the public interest and is a grave, grave mistake," said Collis to the noisy crowd that rallied outside B.C. Supreme Court ahead of the hearing on Wednesday.
Collis, a Simon Fraser University professor, says he has a right and responsibility to speak out on the issue, under the Canadian Constitution.
"The suit being brought against us today is an attempt to deny these Charter rights and it is an attack on democracy," he said.
Collis was met with loud cheers from placard-waving supporters as he rallied against the pipeline and the lawsuit.
Prof. Lynne Quarmby of Simon Fraser University believes Kinder Morgan is using the courts to try to intimidate people such as herself from speaking out.
She hopes the province will reinstate legislation that is designed to prevent so-called SLAPP suits — or strategic lawsuits against public participation.
"There is very much something that our provincial government could do," said Quarmby.
"We used to have anti-SLAPP legislation in British Columbia but we don't have that anymore. It's gone and that's why I'm in trouble, I think."
The protests last week saw a teenager chain himself under a Kinder Morgan worker's vehicle, while other angry demonstrators stopped crews from conducting pipeline survey work at a nearby proposed bore hole, confronting a Trans Mountain survey crew, yelling "go back to Texas."
The pipeline expansion would almost triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Alberta and the B.C. coast to about 900,000 barrels of crude a day.
Speaking last week, Trans Mountain lawyer Bill Kaplan says protesters knew this would happen.
"They were aware the reaction of Trans Mountain would be to seek injunctive proceedings," he said.
City of Burnaby appeals Energy Board decision
The protests on Burnaby Mountain followed an announcement by the City of Burnaby, in which it said that it plans to appeal a National Energy Board (NEB) decision granting the energy giant access to the municipal conservation area.
Burnaby and Kinder Morgan have been locked in battle over the $5.4-billion pipeline expansion, with both sides filing legal actions in court and applications with the National Energy Board.
But the energy board has ruled that Burnaby can't stop the company's activities because the geotechnical work is needed by the board, so it can make recommendations to the federal government about whether the project should proceed.
The board's order forbids the City of Burnaby from undertaking any bylaw enforcement. It also says Kinder Morgan must give the city written notice of work 48 hours in advance and must remediate any damage.
It is the first time the NEB has issued an order to a municipality.