New photographs from a recent protest against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project depict a dramatic scene unfolding beneath Metro Vancouver's Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.
On July 3, a dozen activists took part in a demonstration that saw them unfurl flags below the bridge, which crosses the Burrard Inlet to connects the city of Vancouver with North Vancouver.
"After spending more than 35 hours on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in Vancouver, the climbers who rappelled from the bridge and supporting blockade members were peacefully removed from their positions," reads a Greenpeace Canada media release. "The RCMP are taking the activists to the North Vancouver RCMP detachment."
"The two-day blockade was made up of twelve people hailing from the Indigenous Coast Salish community, B.C., Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, the U.S.A (Washington state), Mexico and the U.K."
Among those who repelled from the bridge was Will George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and a lead organizer with Protect the Inlet, an Indigenous initiative of Tsleil-Waututh members and their allies who have long remained at the front of protest efforts against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
“I will remain the fierce opposition," George said quoted in the same release. "It is in my blood to protect the water. Our Indigenous rights are being completely ignored, the safety of our water is being ignored, and most of all my son’s future is at stake. I will do whatever it takes to protect the water and my family and your family.”
Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace Canada spokesperson who climbed the bridge alongside George, called attention to the role that Canada's government now plays in the project since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's administration announced on May 29 that Ottawa will purchase the pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada.
“No one should need to spend almost two days suspended from a bridge trying to protect something as essential as water but that’s exactly what the Prime Minister Trudeau has driven us to do," Hudema said quoted in the release. "The prime minister still has a chance to make the right decision and stop this pipeline. But whether it’s by his pen, in the courts, or the global resistance, the pipeline won't be built—and this movement of people isn't going anywhere.”
The Trans Mountain project involves twinning an oil pipeline that runs from Edmonton—where it receives diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands—to a port in Burnaby. Upon completion, it would triple the amount of bitumen transported to the Lower Mainland, increasing the number of oil tankers moving through Burrard Inlet from some 60 ships per year to more than 400.
Those ships will sail beneath the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, where Greenpeace Canada and Protect the Inlet members staged their July 3 protest.
Once Ottawa's purchase of the pipeline closes, the deal will see Kinder Morgan Canada, a subsidiary of the Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc., sell the Trans Mountain pipeline to a Crown corporation. It's tentatively scheduled to close before the end of August for an estimated cost of $4.5 billion.