Man arrested at Tsawwassen power line protest found guilty
A Vancouver man has been found guilty of contempt for ignoring a court injunction and taking part last month in an ongoing protest against the construction of a new overhead transmission line in Tsawwassen, B.C.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Pitfield made the ruling Friday and suspended the sentence of Lloyd Blair Chancey with a warning that any further breach of his order not to interfere with the power line will result in jail time.
The BC Transmission Corporation project involves replacing 70 existing wooden power poles along a long-established right-of-way with 20 taller steel structures capable of handling higher-voltage lines to provide greater power to Vancouver Island. The line runs through rights-of-way on the properties of several Tsawwassen residents.
Concerned residents held several rallies, calling for a halt to the high-voltage transmission line, which they said poses a health threat.
Chancey, 42, apologized to the court and the BCTC on Friday morning, saying his passion overruled his brain and he's embarrassed for his actions on July 14.
The unemployed safety officer was arrested that day after he sat on top of one of the new poles and then tore out a survey stake.
Outside court, Debbie McBride, another protester against the construction of the transmission line, said the justice's words were indeed an overarching warning for everyone.
"I don't think this was a warning directed at just the residents of Tsawwassen," she told CBC News. "I think this was a warning to residents all over British Columbia where any of these power projects are being pushed through."
McBride said the only way citizens can protest is if they are willing to go to jail.
The B.C. Supreme Court had granted BCTC an injunction to prevent protesters from disrupting the upgrading of an existing overhead transmission line when construction began on June 2. The provincial government approved the plan in March.
The court granted the corporation an enforcement order last month, which compels police to arrest anyone who interferes with crews building the new power line and made it clear that further interference would not be tolerated.
The BCTC has nearly finished erecting the 20 new power poles.