Pipeline protest at Maple Ridge MLA's office

Michelle Vandermoor holds sign that reads
Michelle Vandermoor holds sign that reads 'No Tanks' during a pipeline protest outside MLA Marc Dalton's office along Dewdney Trunk Road on Wednesday.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

Opponents of two pipelines proposed to cross B.C. received a healthy number of approval honks in Maple Ridge on Wednesday.

Many passing motorists sounded their horns when brought Defend Our Coast Day of Action for a noon-hour protest in front of MLA Marc Dalton's office on Dewdney Trunk Road.

One passing motorist was so captured by the protest she stopped her car, grabbed a sign and joined in.

Instead of relying on oil exports to produce jobs, more solar and wind energy needs to be developed, said Michelle Nikodym, holding a sign that read: "Defend our Coast."

"That is a resource that will be with us forever," she added. "We're being very ignorant when we say we need oil for jobs. We need to learn better."

And just because you drive a car that depends on oil and gas, she said, you still have the right to oppose the pipelines, she added.

About 70 people lined up on the sidewalk, holding several signs and waving to honking motorists.

Verity Howarth, with Leadnow in Maple Ridge, said the event attracted about 38 people who hadn't been to such an event before.

The intent was to get B.C. politicians to make a "firm commitment" to ban tanker expansion along B.C.'s coast, which would stop Kinder Morgan Canada's proposed doubling of its existing pipeline through B.C. to Burnaby and stop Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines proposal to build a new pipeline from Edmonton to Kitimat.

Kinder Morgan Canada's proposed $4.1-billion project would increase capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline from 300,000 to 750,000 barrels per day. That would increase by 10 times the number of oil tankers loading up in Burnaby.

According to its website, the 1,150-km Trans Mountain pipeline system has been "safely and efficiently providing the only West Coast access for Canadian oil products, including about 90 percent of the gasoline supplied to the interior and south coast of B.C.," for about 60 years.

But if the provincial government isn't able stop the pipeline, "We can," said Cori Sandy of Maple Ridge.

"By standing up and saying, 'No.' No one else can."

Gerald Martin, with the Green party, had three reasons for opposing the projects: because he objected to oil sands development; because of the threat to B.C.'s coast line; and because of the "political arrogance" that would be required to build the pipelines against the will of the people.

"Once the destruction [of the coastline] is done, I doubt it will ever recover properly."

For Pitt Meadows resident Rob Dramer, more research and development is needed on alternative fuels and transportation methods. The amount of research dollars spent on such projects is "miniscule" compared to that spent drilling for oil, he added.

"If it wasn't unhealthy, I wouldn't care," he added. "It's desperately unhealthy."

Juania Swanson, also from Maple Ridge, wanted to add only one thing to the debate.

"If this pipeline is pushed through against Canada-wide opposition, it will prove to me that [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper has turned our democracy into a demockery."

• A Maple Ridge Pipeline Town Hall meeting takes place Nov. 7 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Golden Ears United Church on Dewdney Trunk Road and 222nd Street.

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