Anti-pipeline campers defiant in face of Burnaby, B.C., eviction notice

The deadline to vacate Camp Cloud was at 6 a.m. Saturday, but the anti-pipeline protesters remain.

City deadline to vacate Camp Cloud passed at 6 a.m. Saturday but protesters remain

Camp Cloud protesters say they will not leave despite the eviction notice from the city of Burnaby, B.C. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Anti-pipeline protesters at a campsite in Burnaby, B.C., are defiant in the face of an eviction order from the city that kicked in at 6 a.m. PT Saturday.

Kwitsel Tatel, a Coast Salish woman who speaks for the camp, said the eviction notice was wrongfully issued without proper consultation and consideration, and the group will not be leaving. 

"Camp Cloud will not be evicted. We are the Coast Salish and unceded other tribal groups of so-called British Columbia and people from all four directions [are] exercising our rights guided by we, the Coast Salish," Tatel said Saturday morning.

Camp Cloud was erected at Shellmont Street and Underhill Avenue in November 2017 as a gathering point for people opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Opponents argue increased oil production and tanker traffic via the expansion project will threaten vulnerable ecosystems along B.C.'s coast.

The City of Burnaby wants the camp gone as officials say the structures are unsafe and violate city bylaws even though the municipality is against the pipeline expansion project.

"The structures at Camp Cloud function to support our water protection efforts," said a release issued by Elauna Boutwell of Camp Cloud on Friday. "They can be modified to address the concerns raised."

The two-storey wooden building is among the structures ordered to be removed. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

The camp started with just one trailer parked on the side of the road, but it has since become an assembly of several semi-permanent structures adorned with anti-pipeline slogans.

Organizers say the camp plays a central role in the opposition to the expansion project as it provides an accessible site for people to gather.

Gathering spot

Between 12 and 20 people live at the site, with more joining on weekends for major protests.

Hundreds of people have been arrested in the area for breaking a court-ordered injunction to prevent work at Kinder Morgan sites from being disrupted.

The City of Burnaby eviction notice orders all structures — including tents, a shower, and a two-storey wooden building — to be dismantled within 72 hours. The notice was issued Wednesday at 6 a.m.

The notice says that if the camp is still standing on Saturday, the city will take action and have it removed. As of Saturday afternoon, the city had not taken any action against Camp Cloud. 

'Peaceful ending' sought

"That will be one option but hopefully ... we don't need to exercise that option and we'll come to a peaceful ending because the city wants to work collaboratively without forcibly removing people from the camp," said Lambert Chu, Burnaby's city manager.

Chu also said the city is consulting with its lawyers about what to do if protesters don't leave, while Burnaby RCMP said the eviction order is the city's responsibility.

Tents along Shellmont Street in Burnaby that are part of Camp Cloud. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Protesters maintain they have a legal right to demonstrate at the site.

In March, the Supreme Court of B.C. struck down a request from Trans Mountain's lawyers to have the camp removed.

Tatel says leaders want to speak with the city to find a solution.

Camp Cloud is an assortment of semi-permanent structures in the Forest Grove neighbourhood of Burnaby. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

She is also inviting officials — including Burnaby's mayor, who has been outspoken in his opposition to the pipeline expansion — to come to the camp and stand with protesters.

"I invite [Derek] Corrigan to come and stand beside myself and many people from the black, the white, the red and the yellow races of this country so-called Canada," she said.

Corrigan, who's long been on record opposing the pipeline, says the camp is counter-productive.

"Many who are opposed to the pipeline are at a point where the camp can't be tolerated," Corrigan said. "They've not only alienated people who might be neutral or may be supporting the line, they've also alienated the people opposed to the pipeline."

Right to peaceful protest

The City of Burnaby says it respects the right to peaceful protest, but camp organizers have not done enough to address safety and public nuisance issues.

The eviction order does not impact the Watch House, which is nearby and organized by members of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation.

"The City has, and continues to have, a high level of cooperation from the Watch House that is in Forest Grove Park," it said in a release about the eviction notice.

With files from Alex Migdal, Jon Hernandez, and Deb Goble