News Local

Pipeline opposition holds rally ahead of decision

By David P. Ball, 24 hours Vancouver

Ahead of the final Northern Gateway Pipeline decision protesters remained opposed in Vancouver Sunday.

Ahead of the final Northern Gateway Pipeline decision protesters remained opposed in Vancouver Sunday.

More than 1,000 people marched across the Burrard Street Bridge Sunday as a final gesture of opposition to Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline before an imminent federal decision expected within days.

The federal government's ruling on the $7-billion proposal is expected by June 17.

The president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, which organized the protest, predicted it could come sooner.

But that no amount of convincing or consultation will win over First Nations.

"The absolute final answer is no," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told the crowd.

"We have heard through the grapevine that the Harper government is going to announce a delay - this is the rumour - to allow for more consultation with First Nations communities."

The prediction could not be verified, but Phillip said such a delay would be unsuccessful in changing the minds of First Nations.

"We believe the Harper government and (the) oil and gas (industry) are making a last desperate attempt to cover their legal backside," he said.

Carleen Thomas, of Tsleil Waututh Sacred Trust, said the march was not only timed with the impending federal decision, but also with World Water Day.

Vancouver city Coun. Adriane Carr was among hundreds of non-Native supporters marching Sunday. She told 24 hours she joined the protest to "support the call" for First Nations, alleging the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals would create oil spill risks.

"First Nations are on the front line of stopping the pipelines in B.C." she said.

"With increased tanker traffic, if one spill happened it would ruin our economy and quality of life."

Last year, the National Energy Board gave its conditional blessing to the project after months of hearings and thousands of testimonies, the majority in opposition.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has not backed down on her own five conditions, including improved pipeline and tanker safety plus more economic benefits.

Enbridge said its project, if approved, would create 3,000 jobs in construction and 560 long-term jobs in the province. ​

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