By LeRae Haynes
Council of Canadians hosted a gathering in Herb Gardner Park today for a âKootenay to Kitimat Caravanâ protest against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry crude from the Alberta tar sands to the port of Kitimat.
Four men from the Nelson area formed the group that addressed the crowd today, calling themselves the âGrey Geezer Gang.â They were in Kamloops yesterday and arrived in Williams Lake to continue their protest.
A couple of special guests joined the group in the park todayâKim Slater, who is running the route of the proposed pipeline, stopping in communities to raise awareness and to protest the project, and BC NDP leader Adrian Dix.
Kim said that she will be at the Central Cariboo Arts Society building on Monday July 23rd to address the community, saying that she wants to have a dialogue around clean, renewable energy, and what a national energy plan might look like.
(Keith Wiley from 'Kootenay Caravan' and runner Kim Slater.)
She began her run at the BC Alberta border and ran 350km to Prince George. On July 25 she will take up the run againâfrom Prince George to Kitmat, running about 40km a day for four weeks.
âThe run is going really well and the response has been great,â Kim said. âIt was a delightful surprise to meet the âGeezer Gangâ here todayâso fortuitous that we crossed paths.â
She said she ran her first marathon in June. âThe immensity of the pipeline issue warranted a big gesture, and doing this run is the one I wanted to make,â she said. Â
One of the Grey Geezers played âStudy War no Moreâ on a saxophone to signal the beginning of the speeches today.
Keith Wiley from Nelson addressed the crowd. âWhat we are doing is carrying a message,â he said. âWe started with a number of informational events in the Kootenays, and people said we should visit the communities along the path of the pipeline.â
He said that they created a proclamation which says, âWe support you and your right to refuse the pipeline access to your lands, communities and waters.â
A three-member panel began public hearings to discuss the environmental impact of the proposed pipeline in January. Over 60 First Nations groups in BC have signed a declaration in opposition to the project and the Union of BC Municipalities has also passed a motion against it
âWorking together we are going to stop the pipeline,â he said, adding that the tar sands oil contains is a highly corrosive substance that has already caused problems in pipelines. âIt will cross about 200 waterways in BC, many of which are tributaries to the giant Fraser and Skeena systems, and many of which are salmon habitats.â
Provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix was invited to the microphone to address the crowd. âI feel embarrassed that I flew up here today and Kim had to run,â he quipped.
âThere is debate right now about whether people care whatâs going on around them and I think this issue shows that the absolutely do.
âBC takes all the risks for this pipeline, which are considerable. Everyone agrees with this, even the Premier,â he said. âWe take all the risks and reap none of the benefits.
âThis action in communities is a ânoâ to the Northern Gateway Pipeline and a âyesâ to communities that can be sustained in better ways.â
In his final remarks, Keith Wiley said that they are on their way to Prince George. âI think you are participating in a turning point in Canada where Canadians say, âwe donât want industrialization and energy at any environmental cost.
"That isnât acceptable anymore. We want new ways that sustain our planet and bring life for our children and grandchildren in the future.â
John Dressler from the Williams Lake chapter of Council of Canadians said that the pipeline is one of the most ill-conceived projects that we have seen in Canada, ever. âThere is no upside for British Columbia in this at all. There may be some workers whoâll work on the pipeline, but they will almost certainly be technical workers who will like be brought in from Alberta,â he said.
âIt is important to think about this, let your voice be heard. This does not have to happen. If we say we have alternatives, then we can stop the Enbridge pipeline.â
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