|The Trans Mountain crude oil pipeline Friday April 13, 2012. (QMI Agency/Kinder Morgan Energy Partners)
The Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations communities in B.C. joined forces Saturday to oppose the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project.
It is the only pipeline system in North America that transports crude oil and refined products from Edmonton to terminals and refineries in the central B.C. region, the Greater Vancouver area and the Puget Sound area in Washington state.
The pipeline ends on Tsleil-Waututh territory on the south shore of Burrard Inlet in Burnaby, and the community says any expansion would increase supertanker traffic in Vancouver's port. The $4.1 billion project would increase the pipeline's oil capacity to 750,000 barrels per day from its current 300,000.
Members of the groups embarked on a two-hour canoe journey Saturday afternoon that began at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver and ended at North Vancouver's Cates Park. A declaration "calling on people from all cultures to protect our environment for future generations" was signed following the trip.
"This is not just a Tsleil-Waututh issue or an aboriginal rights issue. This is an issue that could impact everyone's quality of life," Chief Justin George said in a statement. "Vancouver is one of the most beautiful and liveable cities in the world. For the community as a whole, there is just too much at stake to allow such a project to proceed."
Last month, the Tsleil-Waututh signed the Save the Fraser Declaration, an indigenous law ban on oilsands pipelines through First Nations traditional territories.
The declaration also bans oilsands oil tankers in the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon on the north and south coasts of B.C.
To date, the declaration has been signed by more than 100 First Nations.
In May, Vancouver councillors approved a motion formally opposing the expansion of the Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline system.