BURNABY, B.C. – At least a dozen protesters including an 11-year-old girl were taken into custody Sunday on a mountain near Vancouver as a demonstrations continued against a controversial pipeline project.
Dozens of people have been arrested since Thursday, when the RCMP began enforcing a court injunction ordering protesters to clear a pair of work sites on Burnaby Mountain, where Kinder Morgan is conducting drilling and survey work related to the proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline.
The 11-year-old girl and her mother crossed a police line after announcing their plan to do so to supporters. The girl was escorted down the mountain by an RCMP officer, while her mother was arrested and later released.
Others were arrested after making similar pronouncements and proceeding past RCMP officers, who have been positioned in large numbers along road in a wooded area on the mountain, which is home Simon Fraser University, for several days.
Anti-pipeline activists set up an encampment on Burnaby Mountain in September in an attempt to block Kinder Morgan crews from accessing the area.
The company is drilling two bore holes into the mountain as it prepares for the federal environmental approval process. The company’s preferred route for the expanded pipeline, which would triple its capacity to transport Alberta oil to a terminal in Burnaby, includes a section that would tunnel through the mountain.
Kinder Morgan obtained a court injunction ordering the protesters to clear the encampment. The injunction took effect last Monday, but the RCMP waited three days before enforcing it and making arrests.
Environmentalist David Suzuki, whose grandson Tamo Campos was arrested earlier in the week, was at the protest site on Sunday.
Suzuki admonished the RCMP officers, who he accused of dragging his grandson over the police line before the arrest.
“You are here to enforce the law; that does not mean you are above the law,” said Suzuki.
Suzuki thanked the crowd of protesters for their fight against the pipeline.
“If we continue to look at the world and the land around is just in terms of dollars and cents, we are going to destroy the very things that make that land so precious to us, the very things that keep us alive and healthy,” he said.
With Sunday’s arrests, the total number of protesters who have been removed by the RCMP is more than 60. Some of the arrests have followed physical clashes with police, but many have involved protesters who deliberately crossed the police line after announcing their intention to be arrested.
Most of the arrested protesters have been charged with civil contempt for violating the injunction, but the RCMP said two protesters were arrested Friday night on criminal charges. One man who was accused of spitting at a police officer was charged with assault, while another was charged with obstruction.
The RCMP could not be reached Sunday to comment about the latest arrests.
The protesters are not alone in attempting to stop the Trans Mountain expansion.
The City of Burnaby has filed a lawsuit to prevent Kinder Morgan from cutting down trees and damaging parkland, though the National Energy Board has ruled the company does not need the city’s permission to conduct its survey work. The city is challenging that ruling.
Burnaby’s mayor, Derek Corrigan, has been a vocal opponent of the pipeline expansion.
Opponents of the pipeline have said the expansion would increase the risk of a devastating spill because of the increase in the amount of oil through the pipeline and the added tanker traffic in Vancouver’s harbour. They also link the pipeline to the expansion of Alberta’s oilsands.
Meanwhile, the main protest site is along the only road to Horizons, an upscale restaurant perched on Burnaby Mountain. The restaurant says it has been forced to cancel all reservations during the weekend, leaving 60 employees unable to work.