City of Burnaby demands removal of porta-potties from pipeline protest camp

Tereza Verenca - Burnaby Now


Protesters on Burnaby Mountain ran into some porta-potty problems this week. The City of Burnaby does not allow them on public lands. Above, Douglas Fugge near Shellmont Street and Underhill Avenue. Photograph By Tereza Verenca

There are porta-potty bylaws, and Kinder Morgan protesters found that out the hard way this past week.

Activists set up a mobile trailer at the corner of Shellmont Street and Underhill Avenue 60 days ago in an effort to keep an eye on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project. (The intersection is home to Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby terminal.)

Up until earlier this month, the group was using the washrooms in nearby Forest Grove Park. But the facilities became unusable after the power went out a few weeks ago, according to Douglas Fugge.

To relieve the situation, three portable toilets were dropped off last week, Fugge told the NOW.

“We have people here overnight and at night sometimes it’s scary to go there in the park.”

They were rented by someone close to the cause, who didn’t want to be named, and were to remain on site for a month, he said.

That didn’t bode well with the City of Burnaby.

According to John Parkins, supervisor of parking enforcement, porta potties are not allowed on public lands.

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“I have met with the protesters and have advised them that the porta potties are not permitted at this location. The city has advised the porta potty company that the porta potties are not permitted and they are to remove them accordingly,” he wrote in an email to the NOW.

On Monday, the protesters purchased their own porta potty and the others were taken away.

“It’s very nice having a toilet to be able to do these basic human things we all do and (with) some dignity,” said Fugge. “Just having the threat of the (porta potties) removed put a lot of pressure on people staying here. Someone’s going to take away your place where you’re going to the bathroom, it’s (an) uncomfortable feeling, and also, some elders can’t come because they have medical issues. They have to use (the washroom) every half hour or something.”

Asked about the possibility of receiving a $500 ticket, protester Uni Urchin said, “It’s all unceded (territory); no permits or bylaws should overrule our right for protesting and using the toilets in peace and dignity.”

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The Burnaby segment of the $7.4-billion pipeline project will go through a detailed route hearing this year. Hosted by the National Energy Board, the hearing gives “adversely affected” landowners the opportunities to speak out against the proposed route.

The Burnaby meetings will be hosted at the Delta Burnaby Hotel (4331 Dominion St.) from Jan. 22 to 31 and from March 12 to 22.

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