Dozens of protesters and community members marched on Premier Christy Clark’s constituency office in Vancouver Wednesday to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and Kinder-Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion proposals.
About 100 people, most members of the climate action group UBCC350, gathered at Almond Park in Dunbar to prepare for the march with protest signs, trumpets and saxophones and fake pipeline props in tow. They marched eight blocks to Clark’s Vancouver-Point Grey constituency office on West Fourth Avenue. The protest was part of anti-pipeline marches and protests at 63 MLA offices across the province Wednesday.
George Hoberg, a UBCC350 spokesman and University of British Columbia political science professor, said their march was to encourage Clark to take a stand on the pipeline proposals.
“I’m pretty sure they have the message loud and clear. It’s only a matter of acting on that message,” he said. There is no question that [politicians have] felt the political pressure and their position has changed significantly. We’re just waiting for that extra step.”
Clark’s current stance on the pipelines is that she will only consider them if the proposals fulfill five criteria, including First Nations involvement, environmental safety and financial requirements.
But UBC student and UBCC350 co-founder Gordon Katic said the group takes issue with elements of the criteria, namely the financial requirement.
“This isn’t about pittance of revenue that we’d get over the next two years for oil, it’s about creating a real sustainable future and taking a responsibility for our climate no matter what economic gains we get from it,” said Katic.
The name of the group was inspired by 350.org, a global protest movement to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million from the current 392 parts per million.
Hoberg agreed, saying it makes it seem that the premier is willing to “sell off our coast, climate and future.”
Other participants, such as UBC geography student Jessica Stephens-Whale, were concerned about investing in oil as an energy solution.
“I’m concerned for our streams, habitat, ecosystem, and health,” said Stephens-Whale. “It’s putting us back when we should be looking for more renewable sources of energy.”
This protest comes just two days after another in Victoria on Monday that drew nearly 2,000 people opposed to the pipelines. But Hoberg said Wednesday’s march was to show politicians the extent of opposition.
“It’s getting bigger,” he said. “Now we’re showing the breadth of operation by targeting 63 MLAs across the province, linking arms and showing that people want to stand up for their coast and stand up for their province.”
Clark did not address either the Vancouver protest or Monday’s rally in Victoria. Representatives at Clark’s office did not speak with the protesters. Clark’s office told the Courier the premier would not provide a statement on the protest.
Stephens-Whale hopes the movement may already be too big for politicians to stop.
“I feel we’re in the safe zone now almost. We’ve gotten past most of the hard stuff and we’re not going to be able to pursue this anymore because there’s too many people against it.”