YouTuber replaces doctor in treetop TMX protest in Burnaby

A public health professor has climbed down from his perch 10 days after he climbed trees in the Brunette River area to protest the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

But Dr. Tim Takaro didn’t leave the site, which took up several trees, unguarded – replacing him in his protest camp is YouTuber Kurtis Baute, whose videos focus on climate change and other science-related topics.

Baute, whose YouTube channel has 173,000 followers, now places himself in the line of potential legal trouble, as he blocks construction on the pipeline project’s section through the Brunette River conservation area.

It’s one of a handful of areas where the new route diverges from the original pipeline’s route. Trees along the route, including the location of the treetop camp, are scheduled to be cleared between Aug. 1 and Sept. 15, according to a news release from the protesters.

The camp, referred to as the Holmes Creek resistance camp, is directly southwest of the Highway 1 overpass at North Road, the convergence of Burnaby, Coquitlam and New Westminster.

“COVID-19 has shown us that we can respond to a health emergency with incredible strength by citizens and government,” said Takaro, 63, in a news release.

“Now is the time to bounce back better from COVID-19 by phasing out fossil energy sources. The prime minister’s new pipeline that has a 40- to 50-year lifespan, will enable expansion of the Alberta oilsands. This is not in the national interest and will harm the planet.”

Baute, 30, climbed to the treetop camp using mountaineering ascenders on Wednesday.

Among his YouTube videos, Baute has documented a 15-hour stint in an airtight biodome, which he had sealed himself inside of to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

“I'm going up there to protest for my right to a habitable future on this planet. We are living in a climate emergency. The science is clear that if we continue to build more pipelines like this one then the world will be nothing short of apocalyptic by the time I reach old age,” he said.

“Non-violent civil disobedience works, and if fighting for a livable future on this planet means risking being arrested, then that seems like a simple decision to me.”

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