Pro-pipeline supporters rally for Kinder Morgan project in Langley, B.C.

Demonstrators gathered in Langley to show support for the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.

'We want positive economic development in B.C,' says MLA

Demonstrators gathered in Langley to show their support for the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Nearly 100 people gathered in Langley, B.C. Saturday to show their support for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project.

The controversial project would triple the amount of bitumen being transferred from Alberta to the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby, B.C.

The provinces of Alberta and B.C. are engaged in a bitter dispute over the project, and thousands of British Columbians have marched against the project in protest.

Today's event, according to organizer Rick Peterson, an investment banker, is to show support for the resource sector.

"The anti-resource people have done a really good job of getting out, mobilizing, raising money raising their profile, and they've been beating us at that," Peterson said.

"Our role today is to start to gain back some of that terrain, and show that there is a large majority of people that support the resource sector."

Pipeline expansion supporters gathered in Langley, B.C. Saturday. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

'Silent majority'

Among the people in attendance was Liberal MLA Laurie Throness who represents the riding of Chilliwack-Kent. He said he supported the pipeline and felt the need to speak up in support.

"We want positive economic development in B.C," Throness said.

When asked why the turnout for this event wasn't as large as previous protests against the project, Throness said a negative protest is always stronger than a positive one.

"It's because the silent majority are not protesters. They are working people. They are living their daily lives and they're not activists," he said.

"The more we have events like this, the more people will come," said organizer Rick Peterson. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Chief Ernie Crey of the Cheam First Nation echoed this sentiment, noting that some Indigenous communities support the pipeline expansion.

"Yes, there is a lot of opposition amongst some First Nations, but some people manage to overlook — I don't know how — some …43 First Nations along the pipeline route that have mutual benefits agreements," Crey said.

He said he was there to support the pipeline project for the benefits it could provide to his band members in terms of jobs, funding and training.

As for why there weren't more Indigenous representation at the event today, Crey said he "can't speak for everyone."

Peterson said he was largely pleased with the turnout at today's event, adding there were four other similar events planned across the province in Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, Kitimat and Smithers.

"The more we have events like this, the more people will come," he said.

Kinder Morgan has said if the political uncertainty over the project isn't resolved by May 31, it would seek to abandon the expansion.

With files from Deb Goble