Burnaby orders eviction of Trans Mountain pipeline protest camp

City manager Lambert Chu says Camp Cloud has violated multiple bylaws and raised concerns from nearby residents. Protesters say there are no public safety issues and maintain they have a legal right to demonstrate.

City says Camp Cloud has violated multiple bylaws; protesters have no plans to leave

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

The City of Burnaby has issued an immediate eviction notice to a pipeline protest camp outside a Kinder Morgan facility in the city. 

Protesters claim they were woken up by a handful of RCMP officers and Burnaby city staff around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning when the notice was served.

The notice orders all structures, including tents, a shower, and a two-story wooden building to be dismantled within 72 hours. If the camp still stands in three days, the city will take action and have the camp removed, according to the notice.

"Public safety is the reason why we would be removed," said Kwitsel Tatel, a spokesperson for the camp. "There is no public or safety issue at Camp Cloud."

The camp, which sits across the street from the Kinder Morgan tank farm on Burnaby Mountain, started as a small trailer and has evolved over several months into a small shanty town of semi-permanent structures.

The neighbouring facility has been the site of dozens of protests and hundreds of arrests.

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

"We will end up looking like a Fort McMurray in no time,"  added Tatel.

Kwitsel Tatel says a collection of city staff and RCMP officers quietly showed up at Camp Cloud on Wednesday morning to issue an eviction notice, ordering the removal of all structures within 72 hours. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

City responds

Burnaby city manager Lambert Chu confirmed the eviction was issued Wednesday morning at the Camp Cloud site.

"We certainly have no objection to people protesting. They have the right to do so," Chu said.

"What we have issues with are structures that are unsafe. And also facilities there that pose health and environmental concerns."

Among those structures include a two-story wooden building which violates multiple city bylaws in and of itself. Overall, Chu said the encampment has violated multitude of building, street, traffic and fire bylaws.

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

Dry weather

The city was especially concerned about the camp's fires given the dry season, Chu said. 

It is also situated across the street from a quiet suburban neighbourhood. Chu said residents have complained about the unsightly facilities and unleashed dogs.

Campers have not complied with previous warnings, Chu said. 

While the camp has been ordered to disband effective immediately, the city is in talks with legal counsel around compliance.

An RCMP spokesperson said officers helped city staff deliver the notice Wednesday.

The spokesperson said it's too early to tell whether officers will help enforce the eviction.

Right to protest

Protesters maintain they have a legal right to demonstrate at the site. In March, the B.C. Supreme Court of B.C. struck down a request from Trans Mountain's lawyers to have the camp removed.

At the time, the judge said "there has to be a means" of allowing the protesters to demonstrate reasonably close to the site.

On Wednesday, protesters said the City of Burnaby acted "outside of its jurisdiction" by issuing the eviction order.

According to protester Johnny Lee, the camp is "in the process of contacting lawyers to reverse the eviction notice."

Three notices — including one taped to an outside wall of the camp — were crumpled up and thrown in the trash shortly after they were issued. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Neighbouring camp OK

The notice does not apply to the Watch House, a separate protest camp down the road that is organized by members of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. 

The camp is a single structure in the woods with a few large tents and an RV nearby.

The city said the Watch House complied with a request to extinguish its ceremonial fire. 


With files from Maryse Zeidler and Tanya Fletcher

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said the Watch House camp is organized by the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. In fact, it's members of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation.
    Jul 18, 2018 2:33 PM PT

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