Vancouver doctor marks 6 days camping in trees to protest Trans Mountain pipeline

VANCOUVER — A Vancouver doctor is marking six days camping in treetops in New Westminster in protest over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. The SFU Professor occupied several cottonwoods on Aug. 4 and says he plans to stay until he’s forced out.

Dr. Tim Takaro says he is risking arrest in an effort to draw attention to what he says are health and climate risks posed by the multi-billion-dollar project.

“The peril of me sitting in this tree and blocking construction is so miniscule compared to the peril that Trudeau is bringing down on the planet,” he told reporters Saturday morning. “My crime is nothing compared to his crime.”

Takaro has a team of supporters who take turns camping nearby to help him access supplies. Even if he runs out of steam, he could be replaced by someone else, his supporters said.

“There are other people that are willing to step up if he has to come down; it’s not a comfortable position to be in,” said protester Sven Biggs.

Peter Julian, the NDP Member of Parliament for Burnaby-New Westminster, was also at Hume Park Saturday morning.

“I’m supporting Tim, who is in a very uncomfortable position but is provoking a debate on the Trans Mountain pipeline project that wants to ram through this valley,” Julian said. “Understandably, with the pandemic, people have been focused on their families and getting through the pandemic. What Tim is doing, I think, is drawing public attention to what is a massive waste of taxpayers’ money and something that will fuel the climate emergency.”

The wooded area near Hume Park is set to be cleared to make way for the new pipeline. Protesters say a spill would be devastating to both humans and the environment.

But there are those in favour of the expansion project. Andrew Mann is a director with the group Suits and Boots, who says the project would create thousands of jobs and is the best way to transport oil and gas.

“I think we would prefer pipelines to semi trucks on the roads because that’s a huge spill hazard; there’s more vehicle crashes on highways than pipelines built in general so I think pipelines as a means to transport oil and gas is the number one means to do it,” Mann said.

In July, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal from several B.C. First Nations, upholding the federal government’s approval of the pipeline project.  

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