No pipelines, no tankers and no room to breathe on the sidewalk in front of Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson’s office thanks to the provincewide Defend Our Coast day of action.
Well over 100 people filled the corner of Ethel Street and Springfield Road to protest the pipeline proposals that would see vast increases in the amount of bitumen traversing Alberta and B.C. to refineries on the coast.
Thomson was out of town, but protesters used the spot to share in the provincial protest day, a second action for individual communities following the larger protest on the lawns of the legislature Monday.
“I’m not here to tell you you should be sitting in front of supertankers. Personally, I would, but that’s me,” said Danielle Prins the UBCO student who acted as point-person for Kelowna’s portion of the multifaceted day of action.
Across B.C. some 68 different communities were holding similar protests and 3,403 people had registered on a website to attend by the time the noon-hour protests began.
Prins told reporters this cause has become her life of late, though she is ordinarily a human kinetics student and couldn’t make it to the protest on time because of a class.
When she did arrive, fellow protesters gathered around for a few inspirational cheers as she took the megaphone and others spontaneously donning tee shirts to spell the phrase “no pipelines, no tankers,” one letter per person.
“We came here for the common purpose of protecting our province,” said Chuck Cullen, a protester who put on a shirt to spell the phrase.
Taron and Jen Keim used the gathering to secure signatures on a petition against the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement set to pave the way for Chinese takeover of the Alberta oil company Nexen.
“It’s concerning that FIPA is kind of getting passed under our noses,” said Taron. The couple have been to several other spots to try and raise awareness.
Like Prins, Taron is a student, but those in attendance at Wednesday’s rally ranged from retirement age to young parents, toddlers to those just out of high school.
At the end of the day, the pearl for the oil companies is always money, so people young and old must send a message that the jobs on the table are not worth the price of the social and environmental impact, Prins said.
She checked the Enbridge website personally and learned the company is only offering 560 long-term jobs to British Columbians under the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, which protesters contend could threaten 785 rivers and streams in the province, including the Fraser and Skeena rivers.
Enbridge is only one of two companies pitching vast pipeline expansion. Kinder Morgan also hopes to double capacity in its Trans Mountain Pipeline System.
Thus far, Premier Christy Clark has proven defiant over the dollars involved, if not the environmental impact. In addition to walking out of meetings on the issue and demanding a larger share of the pie for B.C., she has tried speaking directly to the people in both Alberta and B.C.
Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, rejected the Enbridge proposal saying the company needs a better plan if it wants to run the line through one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the world—the Great Bear Rainforest.