More than 100 people marched through Fort Langley Sunday afternoon to protest the federal approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
Organized by the Kwantlen First Nation and the PIPE UP Network, the march began with drumming and remarks at the Fort Langley Community Centre before winding down Glover Road and to the Fort Langley National Historic Site.
“We didn’t give permission for the first pipeline that was laid, so why would we give permission for the second?” said Brandon Gabriel, a Kwantlen First Nation member and one of the leaders of the march.
The marchers are upset that Justin Trudeau has given oil pipeline firm Kinder Morgan the green light for a project expected to almost triple the capacity of an existing pipe that runs from Alberta to Burnaby, passing through North Langley.
The existing pipeline can carry up to 300,000 barrels of oil per day. An expanded line is expected to carry at least 890,000 barrels per day, and the number of oil tankers in the harbour off Vancouver is expected to quadruple.
The prospect of spills and damage from construction has animated most of the opposition to the project.
In a speech to the marchers, Gabriel emphasized that the Kwantlen have lived on the land and water of this area since time immemorial. But in 1953, they didn’t have control over what was built.
“What we are saying is ‘No, you do not have permission to do this,’” Gabriel said.
He said the younger generation of the Kwantlen will be pushing back.
“This is our time, this is our fight,” he said. “This time we’re not going to let them build this pipeline.”
Councillor Tumia Knott of the Kwantlen spoke about the fears for the environmental impacts the pipeline could have on the land and the river.
There is still no clear route for the new pipeline through Langley – it is likely it will take a different route than the existing line, due to massive population growth over the last 60 years.
The Kwantlen are trying to decide what to do right now, she said, including the possibility of legal action. But she said rallies like Sunday’s may be more powerful.
“Change can happen, and we’re more powerful than we think,” Knott said.
Also accompanying the march was Langley Township Councillor Petrina Arnason.
“We’re standing here together, adding our voices to the larger collective,” said Arnason.
Langley Township has been somewhat critical of the plan, including because a report estimated it would cost the Township an extra $12.8 million in infrastructure and safety costs to deal with an extra pipeline over 50 years.