No anti-pipeline protesters have been arrested at the Trans Mountain terminal since May 28, when the B.C. Crown Prosecution service said it would escalate the recommended penalties, asking for up to 14 days of jail time for anyone who violates an injunction zone.
Over 200 people have been arrested blockading the pipeline terminal in Burnaby, B.C. since the injunction was ordered by the courts in mid-March.
The injunction was ordered to stop protesters from causing delays to the construction of the Trans Mountain expansion project, which aims to expand an existing pipeline system from Alberta to B.C., tripling the flow of diluted bitumen and other petroleum products up to 890,000 barrels per day.
On Monday, pipeline opponents gathered at Kinder Morgan’s marine terminal, in order to protest the construction of a new dock that would allow three tankers to fill up with oil at the same time, according Sven Biggs, one of the organizers from Stand.earth. Approximately 50 protesters were present, with five people blockading the entrance of the construction site. All five stepped aside after the RCMP read them the injunction.
One of the youth protesting at the marine terminal, Calvin Beauchesne, said he was planning on risking arrest Monday, but decided to postpone his decision when he found out it could mean jail time. However, he says he’s not completely deterred, and there are two scenarios he would consider going to jail for, “firstly, if they ramp up construction and start putting the pipes in the ground” and secondly, “if the decision of the court cases aren’t in our favour,” he says, referring to the Federal Court of Appeals cases challenging the legality of the the project's approval by the federal government.
The blockade lasted from 10am to 1pm, and at least three construction vehicles were turned away immediately at the start of the blockade, as well as five pickup trucks and two construction vehicles which were blocked from exiting the site.
There was a heavy police presence, and a processing tent set up for arrestees, although it remained unused. The blockade disbanded around 1pm, after RCMP read the injunction and asked each individual if they were going to continue blockading. In a slow and respectful fashion, each individual said they would step away, and the process was over within approximately 15 minutes. The interaction was only slightly shorter than the old process, where a 10 minute grace period was given to protesters between the reading of the injunction and their arrest.
Cara Bauck, one of the rally organizers for Protect the Inlet, said that despite no arrests taking place, the blockade and rally was still success, “we just stopped traffic (into the construction site) for 3 hours and held up a bunch of trucks.” Bauck also said that many people have reached out to Protect the Inlet, who say they are ready to risk arrest despite the threat of jail time.
Afterwards, organizers invited the RCMP to join in a peace pipe ceremony with protesters in front of the Kinder Morgan gates. Two uniformed officers chose to take part, smoking the pipe while listening to prayers by Indigenous elders, as the rest of their team stood by.