As Kinder Morgan gears up to start construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline – announcing Wednesday it has selected six contractors to undertake the work – First Nations and environmental group opponents are organizing to protest and block the project. The Canadian government is warning activists not to break the law, even as there are promises of Standing Rock-style protests in the near future.
Trans Mountain says it has has selected six experienced contractors with experience delivering major infrastructure projects in British Columbia and Alberta and plans to begin construction this month. The $7.4 billion pipeline is expected to be in operation by the end of 2019.
“Getting the construction contractors on board represents a significant milestone for Trans Mountain and demonstrates our commitment to delivering the Project in a timely, cost-effective manner,” Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada Limited, said in a press release.
The company says it will stick to the “British Columbians first” conditions negotiated with the provincial government prior to the May election and give first opportunity for hiring and contracting work within the province to “qualified and competitive BC companies.”
Environmental group Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver is organizing the “Kinder Morgan We Still Say No” rally and march that starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“September is here and Kinder Morgan is still promising to start construction any day now. We need this action to be massive!” the group said on its Facebook page. As of Thursday morning, over 700 people were registered to attend and more than 2,100 were interested.
The Trudeau Government is not budging in the face of widespread opposition in the lower mainland of BC, home to about 2.4 million people.
“I ask that those who have opposition to go, in accordance with the law, and some of them have put their grievances in the court, and work according to that legal process. We’re definitely open to hearing what the courts have to say, but currently the project is approved,” Randeep Sarai, Bc Liberal caucus chair, told CBC News.
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr downplayed attempts by the new BC government of Premier John Horgan to stop or hinder Trans Mountain Expansion, such as supporting the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and over 20 other groups asking the Federal Court of Appeal’s judicial review of the project. Hearings are scheduled for Oct 12 and 13.
“The message [to Horgan] is that this is a federally approved pipeline that we believe is in the national interest. Those are the reasons we took the decision in the first place, and nothing that’s happened since then has changed our mind that this is a good decision for Canada,” Carr told reporters, as reported by the CBC.
“The decision was made with all of the facts, with all the scientific evidence, with all of the input, and we believe we made it for the right reasons and we stand by the decision.”