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‘The community does not give its consent’

Burnaby residents speak against Kinder Morgan pipeline at final panel session

Burnaby pipeline opponents threw down the gauntlet at the final panel session for the Kinder Morgan expansion on Thursday evening.

One by one, dozens of local residents stood at the microphone to voice their opposition, while the federal government’s three-person ministerial panel listened and took notes.

Some speakers broke into tears, while others said they were ready for action if the pipeline goes ahead.

Local resident John Clarke raised concerns about diluted bitumen and potential disasters at Kinder Morgan’s tank farm, now slated for expansion, close to his home on Burnaby Mountain.

“Can you imagine that tank farm if it caught fire,” Clarke asked, holding up a large image of a Puerto Rican tank farm in flames.

“There is no social licence in this proud City of Burnaby. The community does not give its consent,” he concluded to resounding applause.

Many speakers had been participants – either intervenors or letter writers – in the National Energy Board hearings on the project, and many raised concerns and criticism of the board’s review process.

At least two speakers shed tears at the microphone: one woman choked up while describing climate change impacts on people in the Third World; another cited earthquake concerns and the fate of her loved ones.

“My family, friends and the environment mean everything to me,” said Elan Gibson, a member of BROKE. “(That’s why) I am diametrically opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

A group of youth, aged 12 to 23, from a faith-based environmental camp also came to the panel to express opposition to the pipeline expansion.

The sessions took place at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown in Burnaby.

Burnaby MP Terry Beech listened from a table in the corner, but he declined to comment, as he’s saving his remarks for his own presentation at the panel’s North Vancouver session on Aug. 19. In the meantime, Beech has been door knocking and hosting meetings about the pipeline and has sent out 44,000 surveys to his constituents.

The panellists - Kim Baird, Tony Penikett and Annette Trimbee - are tasked with gathering feedback along the proposed pipeline and marine shipping route.

Once all the consultation sessions are done, the panellists will compile a report for the government and submit it by Sept. 30. Federal cabinet’s final decision on the pipeline expansion is due in December.

Here's what they said:

“There’s hundreds or maybe thousands of people in our city who are ready to risk arrest if that’s what it takes.” Bob Hackett, SFU communication professor and resident of Village del Ponte, a Burnaby housing complex sandwiched between two possible pipeline routes.

“We have no confidence in Kinder Morgan at all.” Elan Gibson, member of Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion.

“If we want a liveable planet, we have to transition off fossil fuels as fast as possible.” Susanne Jackson, Burnaby resident.

“If the Liberal government approves this pipeline, they will regret it. Opposition won’t go away. We are just getting started. If Mayor (Derek) Corrigan honours his commitment to sit in front of a bulldozer, we will join him.” Angelika Hackett, Village del Ponte resident.

“If they don’t listen, we will be out there and we will stop the pipeline.” Pat Howard, resident of Village del Ponte.

“We expect our government to lead us into a clean energy economy before it’s too late.” Janet Routledge, former NDP candidate for Burnaby North.

“Sometimes all of our bodies blunt the bits of drills, … sometimes we resist, sometimes we win.” Stephen Collis, SFU English Professor, reading a poem.