Police move in to dismantle pipeline protest camp on Burnaby Mountain
Published Thursday, August 16, 2018 8:03AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 16, 2018 7:10PM PDT
Burnaby Mounties arrested several pipeline opponents Thursday morning as they moved in to dismantle a protest camp near Kinder Morgan's Westridge Marine Terminal.
Officers showed up at Camp Cloud around dawn to enforce a court injunction ordering that all tents, vehicles and structures be removed from the site, which is located at Underhill Avenue and Shellmont Street on Burnaby Mountain.
They began by removing 11 protesters from the camp, but not before setting up an "exclusion zone" that kept media and members of the public about 200 metres back. Five of the protesters were subsequently arrested.
CTV journalists on scene were warned they, too, would be arrested if they entered the exclusion zone.
Environmental activist Tzeporah Berman described the police presence that arrived at the camp around 6 a.m. as overwhelmingly large.
"It seems a little overdone and, you know, quite scary. These are just citizens standing up to protect their homes, and to protect the climate," she said. "No one wanted it to come to this."
After the protesters were arrested, crews began work tearing down the tents and structures. They also extinguished a sacred fire that protesters had kept burning at the site.
Reporters were allowed to watch the dismantling from a viewing area that was set up closer to the camp.
Cpl. Daniella Panesar defended the RCMP’s exclusion zone as a necessary safety measure, and insisted it was not designed to prevent media from witnessing the earlier arrests.
“There is nothing we didn’t want the public to see. We’ve been very transparent with everything we’ve done,” Panesar said.
Despite the removal of Camp Cloud, Berman said pipeline opponents will continue to peacefully protest Kinder Morgan's controversial Trans Mountain expansion project, which would nearly triple the amount of diluted bitumen being shipped to B.C.'s coast.
"They can remove some of us, they can arrest some of us, but more and more people will take their place because citizens from all walks of life are concerned about this project," she said.
"We’ve seen Burnaby residents arrested here on the mountain, we’ve seen members of parliament, we’ve seen teachers, and scientists, and more and more will come every day if they continue to try and construct this pipeline against the wishes of this community."
Mounties said protesters are welcome to return to the site of Camp Cloud to protest, provided they do not set up any other tents or structures.
The City of Burnaby's injunction to clear out the camp was granted by a B.C. Supreme Court justice on Friday, and gave protesters two days to remove all of their belongings.
One point of contention was a trailer that members of the public had complained was obstructing their view of the road at Underhill and Shellmont. Protesters moved the trailer, and on Wednesday visited Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan's office in the hopes of opening a dialogue about compromises that would allow the camp to remain.
Police moved in on Camp Cloud less than 24 hours later. In a statement, Burnaby RCMP said protesters had been given "ample time" since the deadline to leave passed on Sunday night.
"Police maintained a dialogue with the residents of the camp in the hopes that they would obey the injunction and vacate the location. That did not happen. In coordination with the City of Burnaby, today the Burnaby RCMP is enforcing the injunction," the detachment said.
City staff have also raised concerns about safety at Camp Cloud, pointing to a two-storey wood structure that was built close to electrical wires.
"We have a significant issue," said Dipak Dattani, director of corporate services for Burnaby. "The fire chief has come down here and said there's a real threat."
Another nearby structure that was put up by protesters, the Indigenous-led Watch House, was not covered by the injunction and has so far been allowed to remain on the mountain.
More than 200 people have been arrested in connection with anti-Kinder Morgan demonstrations since March, and a number have been sentenced to jail time for violating court injunctions.
Seven people were handed week-long jail terms Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court, including Vancouver city council candidate Jean Swanson and former B.C. Teachers' Federation president Susan Lambert.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald
City officials say any possession left at the camp will be collected and documented.Those who were living at #CampCloud will be allowed to claim their things once the camp is dismantled. #pipeline #KinderMorgan #TransMountain #protest pic.twitter.com/RmP0BUcQSZ— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) August 16, 2018