There was some cautious optimism among environmentalists in Burnaby on Saturday as they came together in Forest Grove to learn about salmon and creek rehabilitation, just down the pathway from the Watch House.
For months, this was ground zero for opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but as the courts have put the expansion on ice, the protests are largely gone.
BROKE, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion, was taking part in the Save Our Salmon event by the soccer fields in Forest Grove. BROKE volunteer Ruth Walmsley said she welcomed last week’s court decision that put a halt to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
”We were very, very pleased to see what we’ve been saying for years has actually been confirmed by the courts,” Walmsley said, meaning that the rights of the First Nations and the marine environment were ignored during the process.
Walmsley added that she didn’t think the consultation on the pipeline expansion constituted meaningful dialogue.
”It’s clear it was not a two-way street and the government representatives were there as notetakers,” she said.
Walmsley pointed out that the Save the Salmon event was part of an international day of action, and it was organized to continue to get out their message about the environment.
”In spite of this court decision, the Trudeau government does not seem to be getting the message that fossil fuels are the past and renewable energy is the future,” Walmsley said.
”It’s irresponsible to be investing in ramping up fossil fuels at this point in time and we need to invest in a clean-energy future and not one where we’re continuing to expand the tarsands and increase carbon emissions,” Walmsley added.
Lynn Perrin, a board member from Pipe-up, which has a mandate to educate communities on the pipeline and plans for its expansion as well as to look at alternatives to “tarsands,” said her organization has worked with all the litigants in the court case, and she was happy for them with the decision.
However, she added, they are still wary.
”It seems they are making the same mistake they made before they decided to support it, in that they think they can just do consultation and all the scientific stuff in a few months,” she said. But looking at the “numerous and various concerns,” she didn’t think it was possible to have meaningful consultation in a few months.
Katherin Roivas, who is Chipewyan First Nation but currently lives in Vancouver, pointed out that while Saturday’s event was about celebrating and protecting the salmon, it tied into the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion opposition.
”The salmon is one of the reasons why it was important to stop the Kinder Morgan expansion,” Roivas said. “The Kinder Morgan expansion (protest) was about a lot things, about protecting the water, but it was also about protecting the salmon, protecting the land, protecting the orcas, protecting the residents of Burnaby Mountain from catastrophe.”
For the local First Nations, the Tsleil-Waututh, the water in the inlet provided a food source, salmon, mussels and more, for thousands of years, Roivas said.
”So, it’s vital they stand up and protect the inlet, protect the water, so it doesn’t get polluted, it doesn’t get destroyed because of a tanker spills,” she added.