The Kwantlen First Nation reaffirmed its opposition to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion during a public council meeting on Monday night.
“Tonight I am going to be asserting that this is the unceded territory of the Kwantlen people, and that we uphold our sovereign place on this land, and that our sovereign territories extend beyond the reckoning of time, beyond the establishment of this Township and this country,” Brandon Gabriel told Township council on March 5.
Gabriel was speaking on behalf of the Kwantlen Nation and the PIPE UP Network, of which he’s been a director since 2012. He was joined by his wife, Melinda Bige, and PIPE UP member Lynn Perrin.
Their delegation followed one by Annabel Young of the Salmon River Enhancement Society, who presented to council that group’s concerns with how the 19.7 km stretch of pipeline through Langley will be constructed.
“With regards to the Kinder Morgan pipeline specifically, the Kwantlen Nation has maintained and upheld, since the … idea first came through these lands, that we were — and still are — vehemently opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion,” Gabriel said.
“With respect to the person who presented before me (Young), we have not accepted this idea that this is a done deal, because this isn’t a done deal. And so our position is that there is going to be nothing, there is going to be no pipeline coming through our lands without our permission. And we will take it to the highest courts of this land.”
Perrin distributed a package to members of council outlining some of PIPE UP’s concerns, including before and after photos of McCallum Brook and Kilgard Creek in Abbotsford, where they say pipeline-related damage occurred.
At McCallum Brook, Perrin said an integrity dig to fix a problem with the pipeline under the creek “permanently damaged that riparian area in that creek,” and in 2005, there was a spill into Kilgard Creek.
Perrin said she has done 20 hours of research per week on the subject for the last six years, and “totally and full-heartedly” agrees with the Salmon River Enhancement Society’s view that the Township should enforce its local bylaws to the fullest extent during pipeline construction.
She has even suggested that the province have a $2 billion bond in place with Kinder Morgan to cover costs of potential spills — a figure she based on how much damage per barrel would come from a spill, and how long it would take to get to, and stop, the spill.
“We have something called ‘eyes on the ground,’” she said. “We’re keeping a really close eye on Kinder Morgan to make sure that they meet every single one of those 157 conditions (from the National Energy Board). And that’s something the Township could be doing right now, because they are really trying to fast-track this and they are really trying to get around some of the more onerous conditions.”
On their project website, Trans Mountain says they are committed to working with Aboriginal communities where they operate.
“Where the pipeline crosses reserves in British Columbia, we contribute to each First Nation via property taxes on the land occupied. These Aboriginal communities are our neighbours and we respect their unique interests in the land, their values and their culture,” Trans Mountain states.
“The project presents a special opportunity to enhance existing relationships with Aboriginal communities along our pipeline corridor, while also opening the door to new relationships, including coastal Aboriginal communities with respect to marine transportation and safety. The dialogue to date has been invaluable to our project planning and to developing understanding between communities and our industry. We look forward to building and nurturing these relationships.”