Vancouver Residents Protest Slow Oil Spill Clean-up in English Bay

Environmental War
Photo by United Nations.

Growing Frustration Over Environmental Issues

VANCOUVER – ENVIRONMENT – On Saturday April 25th at 4 pm, hundreds of community members converged at English Bay to vent anger and frustration at the federal government’s unacceptable response to a fuel spill in the Burrard Inlet two weeks ago. Community members used noisemakers and beat pots and pans, demanding the government take responsibility for the spill that resulted in the closure of the Musqueam fisheries, as well as all recreational fishing from Lion’s Gate Bridge to the mouth of the Georgia Straight. The demonstration was organized by a group of community members and is not affiliated with any particular organization.

Oil Spill Protesters Send Political Message

Demonstrators also beat a papier mâché effigy of Stephen Harper riding an oil tanker. Chaya Go, Filipina disaster relief worker and the event MC, told the crowd that effigies are all too familiar in the streets of Manila, where protesters often parade larger-than-life size icons of oppressors. “Though huge in size, effigies are hollow and made of paper—a true representation of people power: how masses in solidarity can take down these large but otherwise empty bases of power.”

Go also made connections between tar sands expansion and climate change-related disasters such as super typhoon Haiyan that ravaged the Philippines in 2013. Community members expressed anger over the federal government’s push to increase projects such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, slated to run through Burnaby Mountain.

“If that project is completed, tanker traffic will increase from about 60 tankers a year to about 400 every year. If this government can’t handle a relatively small fuel spill, how will they handle what we know is an inevitable bitumen spill?” spokesperson Scott Knowles said.

Demonstrators blamed the Harper government for the broad cuts to coastal marine safety that led to the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, a unit that, according to retired coast guard commander Fred Moxie, could have responded to the spill in six minutes.

This action comes on the heels of another action targeting the federal government for its mismanagement of the containment and clean up of the spill. On Friday April 17th, activists disrupted a press conference held by Conservatives MP’s James Moore and Andrew Saxton. Two demonstrators in hazmat suits presented the Tory MP’s with rocks and logs covered in toxic bunker fuel.