After months of standing vigilant on Burnaby Mountain, the Watch House and its nearby camp are set to come down.
This time, however, the takedown won’t come with a police raid or a demolition at the hands of city staff.
Will George, a Tsleil-Waututh man designated at the Watch House’s guardian, said he is working on plans to take down the array of tents and trailers on the soccer field as well as the cedar structure built directly over the Trans Mountain pipeline path in Forest Grove Park. He said both could come down as soon as Saturday, Sept. 16.
The Watch House was built on March 10 as thousands of opponents to the proposed expansion of the pipeline marched on Burnaby Mountain.
"There's an existing pipeline here that's been here for 60 years, and that was built without our consent," George said at the time. "Today, it's unacceptable. We can't allow this pipeline to be doubled with increased tanker traffic."
Now six months later, George said he is firming up plans to host a dinner on Saturday to thank volunteers who have supported the stand against the project, followed by another dinner for people who have been arrested for violating the B.C. Supreme Court injunction protecting the pipeline expansion project from interference.
The plan to move on follows a Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) ruling on Aug. 23 quashing the federal government’s approval of the project due, in part, to insufficient consultation with First Nations. That same day, Kinder Morgan shareholders voted to approve the sale of the pipeline and expansion project to the Canadian government.
“A lot of emotions we are going through,” George said via text message Sunday. “[I am] just very pleased to see that Indigenous rights are protected.”
The Watch House has remained despite the forceful eviction of another pipeline protest encampment. Camp Cloud, which stood a few hundred metres away near the entrance to Trans Mountain’s tank farm, was cleared by police on Aug. 16. City of Burnaby workers tore down the camp later that day.
Representatives from the city have said the Watch House has been more willing to compromise with requests to comply with their bylaws, including snuffing out a ceremonial fire – a demand Camp Cloud refused.
Despite the FCA ruling, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the twinning of the pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby will go ahead. It’s not clear if the Liberal government plans to appeal the FCA decision to the Supreme Court of Canada or follow its suggestion and restart part of the National Energy Board’s flawed review process.
Work on the expansion stopped the same day as the sale and FCA ruling but if it restarts, so too will the opposition, George said.
“Absolutely, we will use that Watch House again if construction starts,” he said.