© photo by Wayne Barnes, Tofino Photography

Coastal communities are on the front lines of climate change. For those who live on the narrow peninsula that leads to Tofino on the west coast of B.C.’s Vancouver Island, the prospect of rising sea levels has an immediacy that tends to incite action. That’s one reason why the prospect of seeing a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic coming within 50 kilometres of the beloved beaches of the Pacific Rim has mobilized the communities there to take creative action to stop the pipeline that would supply the ships.

This Earth Day, April 22, local businesses in B.C. are banding together against Kinder Morgan’s contentious Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline. Tofino companies are offering tours, selling microbrews, encouraging people to “surf for salmon” and serving up a taste of the coastal bounty that draws millions of tourists to the region every year. The aim? To pitch towards raising $500,000 for legal challenges launched by the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Coldwater First Nations that aim to stop Kinder Morgan. It is the same strategy that killed the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

On Saturday, outdoor adventure companies are offering tours of the rugged west coast with revenue going to the Pull Together campaign. Remote Passages Excursions, Clayoquot Wild! and Jamie’s Whaling Station are all donating Earth Day proceeds, while surfing school Pacific Surf Co is hosting a “Surf for the Salmon!” event. The Tofino Brewing Company and Common Loaf Bake shop are also giving a share of Earth Day earnings in support of the “Tofino Pulls Together” legal fundraising efforts. Clayoquot Action are also hosting a benefit screening of the documentary “Planetary” on April 22 at the Clayoquot Community Theatre.

Super-sized pipeline

The Trans Mountain pipeline has shipped crude oil from northern Alberta to B.C.’s Lower Mainland since 1953. In 2005, it was purchased by Kinder Morgan Inc., the largest energy infrastructure company in North America. KMI was founded by Texas billionaire Richard Kinder, a former Enron executive and prominent Republican donor. The proposed twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline would increase the amount of oil shipped to the west coast from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day, with an estimated 400 tankers per year carrying diluted bitumen for export out through Vancouver’s narrow harbour. The federal government approved the pipeline in Dec. 2016.

It’s not radical to oppose a pipeline in a community whose existence is palpably threatened by climate change, but it’s still extraordinary to note the level of consensus against the Kinder Morgan project in this former logging boom town.

The Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce has been a vocal opponent of the plan to bring tar sands tankers to Canada’s west coast. The chamber was an intervenor in the National Energy Board process, stating, “We were unconvinced during the NEB process, and remain unconvinced that either level of government could adequately deal with an oil spill.”

“It’s not an acceptable risk for us to take in the [chamber] board’s opinion,” explains chamber president Jennifer Steven. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was happy to be photographed frolicking on Long Beach last summer but, says Steven, “He, more than anyone, should know how vulnerable this area would be to an oil spill and how much we stand to lose with an economy primarily based on tourism. A spill or tanker accident would devastate our coast and our tourism economy along with it.”

Tofino’s efforts are part of a spreading wave of businesses across B.C. taking action against Kinder Morgan. In Vancouver, Lebanese tapas restaurant Jam Jar just donated proceeds from meals served at both of their locations to Pull Together. Bandidas Taqueria is hosting an art show and fundraiser at their Commercial Drive restaurant April 22, the same day an annual Earth Day parade takes over that East Vancouver street. Bandidas will be joined by Earnest Ice Cream’s Scoop Truck from Noon to 3 p.m., with workshops by Fresh Roots, plant giveaways by the Environmental Youth Alliance and DJ’s spinning late into the night.

Not in Tofino or Vancouver? You can still donate to Pull Together on Earth Day. Every dollar donated will be doubled by an anonymous donor.

Read the whole story here: https://ricochet.media/en/1778/when-it-comes-to-stopping-kinder-morgan-tofino-means-business

 

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