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Kootenay Caravan gathers momentum on their way to Kitimat
The Kootenay to Kitimat Caravan to protest Enbridge’s plans for a northern tar sands pipeline made one of their first stops in a 10 day journey in Grand Forks today gathering support and raising awareness.
Meeting a small gathering of locals at Gyro Park on Highway 3, the four men, Keith Wiley, Michael Gilfillan, Tom Nixon and Jim Tarral, fondly nicknamed the Geezer Gang, rallied the group to encourage continued pressure on government to stop the pipeline.
“I’m concerned about it being a pipeline from the oil sands which is some of the dirtiest fossil fuel oil,” said Keith Wiley, representing Kootenays for a Pipeline Free B.C. “On so many levels this pipeline is a bad idea. It’s going to cost $5.5 million – look at what we could do in terms of building a new economy and better energy systems with $5 million. How many jobs would that create? We’re doing this because we believe that the Enbridge pipeline is a turning point issue in Canada and that Canadians are saying enough of unrealistic and rapid industrial growth.”
The Caravan left Nelson shortly after a lunch time rally that included a minute of silence for the victims of the Johnsons Landing tragedy. Their first stop of many was in Castlegar, and then over the pass to Grand Forks.
Welcoming the Caravan was Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor representing, “a culture of balancing economics with the environment” for the community.
“The Enbridge spills that have been going on… are clear evidence that the technology is not there to do this (transporting bitumen) in a safe way yet,” said Taylor. “I see what we are concerned about (in B.C.) – the areas that it’s going through. Can we trust a pipeline flowing with that much bitumen through the lines to be safe? No. The economics don’t justify the risks.”
For Tarral the need to fight against the proposed pipeline reminds him of his work battling uranium mining in the region and how the support of others in the province gave him needed inspiration for the fight.
“We’re not on the front-line in this issue,” Tarral added. “(Back then) it was very important to us then to hear from communities that were outside of the stakeholder area to feel a sense of solidarity, to feel that not only were we working for our own interests but we were working for the interests of others.” In this cause, Tarral feels it’s his chance to give back in support to others.
The Caravan plans to hold public events in Kelowna, Kamloops, Williams Lake, Prince George, Fort St. James, Smithers, Terrace and Kitimat, and may have events in other centres on the route. The Caravaners will be meeting local mayors, politicians and First Nations leaders.
“We will be posting photos and the progress of the project on Facebook and Twitter as we go, so everyone will have a chance to see who we meet and our activities,” said Wiley.
The proposed Enbridge pipeline would carry unrefined bitumen in a pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta to the port at Kitimat where it is to be loaded on 200 or more tankers a year.
A second, return pipeline carries condensate liquids necessary to dilute the bitumen. Many experts say a tanker incident is inevitable and could contaminate much or even all of the BC coast.
With files from Bruce Fuhr, The Nelson Daily