No more 10-minute warnings for activists flouting pipeline injunction, says judge

Lawyers say protesters have been using the 10-minute period to avoid arrest while blocking the gates. Police will now be required to give a five-step warning before any arrest.

Lawyers say protesters have been using the 10-minute period to avoid arrest while blocking gates

A Burnaby RCMP officer reads a court injunction to a group of protesters who have zap-strapped themselves to a gate at Kinder Morgan's Burnaby terminal. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A B.C. judge has agreed to allow Kinder Morgan to expand the powers of an injunction imposed March 15 to curb anti-pipeline activists trying to thwart construction at its Burnaby worksites.

Lawyers for Kinder Morgan argued Friday in B.C. Supreme Court that they need to broaden the scope of a court injunction to limit the actions of anti-pipeline activists on company and other property.

Kinder Morgan lawyer Maureen Killoran told the court that the company has learned activists are using a 10-minute warning that the RCMP gives before arresting people as a "work-around" to the legal injunction.

She also said the five-metre buffer zone around Trans-Mountain worksites is flouted by "mischief" makers.

A man holds a sign behind RCMP officers watching protesters outside an entrance to Kinder Morgan's property in Burnaby, B.C. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

In court, she cited police reports and the affidavits of two private investigators hired by Kinder Morgan to "mingle" with activists and suss out their tactics.

Killoran told Justice Kenneth Affleck that protesters wait nine minutes and 59 seconds in the restricted zone — then they're replaced by a new crew — who have to be warned again by police. She said people trying to block the project work in waves, or tag teams.

She said this defies the spirit of a court injunction and that's why police should give protesters a "brief opportunity" to comply instead of 10 minutes.

Justice Affleck questioned the use of the phrase "any" Trans Mountain site in the proposed changes.

'Carte blanche'

Neil Chantler, a lawyer representing pipeline activists, said Kinder Morgan was attempting to get a "carte blanche" injunction to limit protesters on any related worksite in B.C.

Killoran says that wasn't her intention and offered to change the wording.

But she went on to show evidence that Greenpeace and other international organizations are tracking important equipment needed to build the pipeline and publicizing the whereabouts while urging others to block it in some way.

She says it's challenging to deal with efforts to tamper with or block equipment — even if it's stored offsite by contractors.

That's why they need the option of posting warnings to create a perimeter around third-party sites dealing with company business.

Burnaby RCMP officers arrested seven protesters on April 28, 2018 at a Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain work site in Burnaby. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

She explained the company would like to be able to erect signs to allow the company to restrict people attempting to blockade the use of equipment needed to build the pipeline.

"How is the public supposed to know it's a Kinder Morgan worksite?" said Chantler.

He said proposed changes to make arrests faster would leave the injunction "ripe for abuse."

But Justice Affleck agreed there's a "calculated and orchestrated" effort to get around the injunction and allowed the company to alter the injunction to both expand its scope and do away with the extra 10-minute warning, on top of the usual police warnings.

Police will be required to give a five-step warning before any arrest.