Trans Mountain says its expansion project has officially hit the halfway mark.
The company says as of March 2022, more than 412 kilometres of pipe has been installed, 574 kilometres of pipeline right of way stripped and graded, 471 kilometres of pipe welded and 32 major trenchless crossings finished.
“We are proud to celebrate the halfway mark of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The way we are constructing this project reflects a new approach to building major projects in Canada," interim president Rob Van Walleghem said in a news release.
“I want to personally thank Ian Anderson, who retired earlier this month after a long tenure with the company. His leadership and guidance have made this milestone a reality.”
While the company celebrates the 50% completion rate, the cost has continued to soar.
In February of 2022, it was revealed that the project cost was estimated to be a whopping $21.4 billion, which is four times what the project was estimated to cost in 2013 when the project was still owned by Kinder Morgan.
The project has faced numerous delays and setbacks, including floods in November that forced the pipeline to shut down as a precautionary measure.
Glacier Media's Business In Vancouver reported in January, Trans Mountain's third quarter financial reports indicated the project was only half built but that 71% of the $12.6 billion capital budget spent.
In 2013, Kinder Morgan estimated the pipeline twinning project at $5.4 billion, with an in-service date of December 2019. The estimated capital cost has since increased four times -- first to $6.8 billion, then $7.4 billion, and then $12.6 billion, after the Canadian government bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan and assumed responsibility for completing the twinning project.
Tree-sitter pleads guilty
Crown Prosecutor Ellen Leno told Fitzpatrick that Winder, a retired UBC French professor, was arrested on Sept. 22 after he was removed from a tree at a Trans Mountain worksite in Burnaby.
Leno said tree removal for pipeline work was stopped on Sept. 13 when workers realized there were people in the trees.
Winder was 50 to 60 feet up a tree, the court heard. An injunction recording was played to him and he was given the opportunity to leave.
When Winder did not leave, police arrived with a cherry picker and ascended to remove him. They found him with a bicycle u-lock around his neck and other devices, fastening to the tree.
“This is a sophisticated and planned event,” Leno said of Winder’s tree sitting. “It was designed to allow a long interference. It’s not easy to do.”
She said prolonging an offence aggravates a breach.
The Crown asked for 21 days in jail for Winder but he countered with 14 days and 100 hours of community service. Fitzpatrick agreed with the Crown.
The judge said there has been proper notice by the Crown of increasing sentences for protest situations with aggravating circumstances.
“You’re the first,” she told Winder.
Winder said he was motivated to act as “western values have had the unintended consequence of bringing us to the edge of climate collapse.”
He told Fitzpatrick the injunction and applicable law predates the examples of the climate crisis the world finds itself in, that the 2021 fires and flooding are examples of the effects of climate change in B.C.
“It is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” Winder said.
“The crime of ecocide has made its way into the public’s general understanding,” he added.
While the courts have heard much about the upholding of the rule of law in the Trans Mountain protester breach cases, Winder said climate change could mean the annihilation of the human species and the breakdown of the rule of law.
In response to Winder’s saying he respected the rule of law, Fitzpatrick said, “that is highly questionable in these circumstances . . . sophistry for saying he’s defending his rule of law.”
Sleeping dragon protest lock
Leno said Haq was arrested on Sept. 24 after he was found sitting at the same worksite. Another protester was nearby.
Leno said the Extinction Rebellion protest group’s national action and strategy coordinator was found with a device known as a sleeping dragon. Protesters use the hard-to-remove devices to lock themselves into place.
“He was not locked into it,” Leno said.
The injunction was read and both were given a chance to leave. Haq chose to remain and was arrested.
Haq said he would his dedicate his time in jail to those who died from extreme weather events in B.C. last year. The Crown asked for two weeks behind bars; the judge agreed but said she would have given a stiffer sentence if requested.
SFU professor pleads not guilty
It was Dr. Tim Takaro, a Simon Fraser University professor of health sciences, who pleaded not guilty. He goes to trial June 13-16.
It’s alleged he breached the injunction after he spent months in a different set of Burnaby trees along the Brunette River to protest the cutting of more than 1,300 trees to clear a path for the pipeline.
Takaro was arrested Nov. 26 after police brought in a cherry picker to remove him.
The other members of the Brunette River 6 are Catherine Hembling, 79, Janette McIntosh, 58, and Ruth Walmsley, 61. They pleaded guilty to the charges Feb. 14. Fitzpatrick sentenced them to 14 days in jail each.
- with files from Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Media and Nelson Bennett, Business In Vancouver