BURNABY, B.C. – The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court injunction early Thursday ordering the removal of all structures from a site where the Trans Mountain pipeline ends in Burnaby.
RCMP Cpl. Daniela Panesar said police began enforcing the B.C. Supreme Court injunction that was obtained by the City of Burnaby last week.
“For safety reasons, we can’t have people there, so there have been arrests of people that have refused to leave,” she said in a phone interview.
Police “maintained a dialogue with the residents of the camp in the hopes that they would obey the injunction and vacate the location” within a 48-hour deadline set by the court, the RCMP said in a news release.
That deadline passed Sunday night but protesters at the encampment, known as Camp Cloud, said Monday they were prepared to protect a sacred fire, which has been burning since the camp was set up late last year. They also said they were prepared to tie themselves to structures rather than obey the injunction.
Panesar said police and the city worked together to enforce the court order and an exclusion zone, which also applied to the media, was established around the camp as the work began. She said the exclusion zone allowed city workers to bring in heavy equipment to remove structures that include a two-storey wooden building, a cabin, an outdoor shower, more than a dozen tents and multiple vehicles and trailers.
The RCMP news release said “violence or disorder” was not expected and Panesar said she had not heard of any issues during the early hours of the camp’s removal.
The camp has grown since last November when opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion parked a single trailer at the gates of the Kinder Morgan tank farm on Burnaby Mountain.
The camp has become a rallying point for demonstrators opposed to the pipeline, which will more than triple the amount of bitumen and other oil products moving from Edmonton to Burnaby before it is shipped overseas by tanker.
The federal government approved expansion of the pipeline in 2016 but environmental and B.C. government opposition led Kinder Morgan, the pipeline’s original owner, to announce it would back out of the project.
The federal government offered $4.5 billion to purchase the project and Kinder Morgan is presenting that offer to its shareholders, with expectation the sale will be approved later this month or in September. The purchase price, which includes the existing pipeline, pumping stations, rights of way, and the Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby, does not cover the construction costs of building the new pipeline, previously estimated at about $7.4 billion.