Trans-Mountain pipeline foes to walk to Burnaby from Victoria

Opponents of the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion project will march from Victoria to Burnaby, beginning today.

Walk 4 the Salish Sea is a four-day, 75-kilometre walk from Mile Zero in Victoria to the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

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Organizer Bobby Arbess said participants want to show their support for the ecological values of the Salish Sea and solidarity with First Nations who have launched a legal challenge against the project.

“We’re doing the walk because we are committed to preventing the environmental destruction and violation of indigenous rights that we believe will ensue from the prime minister’s approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project,” he said.

Walkers are fundraising to support the Pull Together Campaign for the legal defence of the Coldwater, Tselil-waututh and Squamish nations, which have filed lawsuits to stop the pipeline.

Members of the team have already raised about $18,000, Arbess said.

Anyone is invited to join all or part of the walk. About 100 people have committed to the full walk, Arbess said.

The walk begins at Mile Zero at 8 a.m., with speakers, music and large marine-wildlife puppets. The Tsawout First Nation hosts a potluck feast in Central Saanich from 6 to 9 p.m. and walkers will camp tonight at Island View Beach. On Friday, they will catch the 1 p.m. B.C. Ferries sailing to Tsawwassen.

The mainland portion of the walk includes a 10-kilometre march led by First Nations along East Hastings Street in Vancouver and a festival near the Westridge terminal.

The Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion project would twin an existing pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby and triple its capacity for exporting diluted bitumen.

The project received federal approval in November and Premier Christy Clark has said it meets five conditions set by the B.C. Liberal government, including increasing spill-response capacity.

However, critics have warned that “world-class” spill response for diluted bitumen only means cleaning up a small portion of it.

Kinder Morgan is expected to make its final decision on proceeding with the project by June 30, with construction set to begin in September.

asmart@timescolonist.com

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