About 100 anti-pipeline protesters marched up Burnaby Mountain Saturday and police say 15 were arrested for crossing into the Kinder Morgan work site as the company continued with test drilling that started Friday night.
Organizers, who say they are trying to stage a peaceful day of civil disobedience, decided in advance of the march who among them would offer themselves up for arrest.
According to RCMP, 10 women and five men crossed the police line, and were taken to the Burnaby RCMP detachment.
Simon Fraser University science professor Lynne Quarmby was among those leading the march. Quarmby and Tamo Campos, the grandson of environment activist David Suzuki were among those arrested on Friday.
Protesters like Kate Gordanier-Smith say the beginning of the test drilling is their worst fear coming true, but they're taking it in stride.
"I didn't come here to be angry," she said. "I came here to hold on to hope and to be a witness for change."
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Fifty-three anti-pipeline protesters have been arrested and most have been charged with civil contempt since police began arresting people Thursday morning for defying a court injunction to stay clear of Kinder Morgan's work site.
Two protesters facing criminal charge
However, police say two protesters were arrested Friday night on criminal charges. One man was arrested for assault for spitting on police and the other was arrested for obstruction of justice for trying to interfere with the first arrest.
The company obtained a court injunction a week ago Friday to have protesters removed from the site, but police did not start enforcing it until Thursday morning.
Twenty-six people were arrested on Thursday, eight were arrested during the day Friday and at least three others were arrested Friday night.
Heavy machinery is now in place and Kinder Morgan says it is test drilling roughly 250 metres into the ground as part of its survey work for a proposed expanded pipeline. Kinder Morgan is proposing to bore a tunnel under the mountain for the rerouting and expansion of its existing Trans Mountain pipeline.
Horizon Restaurant lays off 60 staff
Representatives of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline project say the courts have ruled their crews have the right to conduct geotechnical survey work on the mountain, and they intend to proceed.
In an emailed statement, Kinder Morgan says it is in the process of drilling six-inch test holes — work that will be conducted 24 hours a day over the next 10 to 12 days.
"Ultimately, if the project is approved, there will be no surface disturbance on Burnaby Mountain because the tunnel, at its deepest point, will be approximately 160 metres below surface," the company said in its statement.
Kinder Morgan says it is committed to minimizing any impacts, and restoring or compensating for any disturbance to Burnaby Mountain. The drilling is taking place in a City of Burnaby designated conservation area.
However, Horizon Restaurant, which is at the top of the mountain, says it has had to lay off 60 staff since police closed the road.
Kinder Morgan says it is aware of the impact of the protests on the restaurant.
"As part of Trans Mountain’s [Kinder Morgan] engagement ... we have reached out to the restaurant and will continue those discussions to understand the impacts and how they can be mitigated," said the company.