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Anti-pipeline groups mount protests in Coquitlam, New Westminster

Protesters continue to raise concerns as pipeline work continues on a twinned route that goes through Coquitlam from Alberta to Burnaby

Protesters continue to express their unease with a multi-billion dollar oil pipeline that is being built in several stages across Coquitlam, New Westminster and Burnaby this month.

Today faith leaders gathered in a prayer circle to block construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline near the Brunette River that borders Coquitlam and New West and were prepared to be arrested.

The protesters, including members of the Buddhist, Quaker and Unitarian faith communities, gathered in a forested area next to the river, behind the Braid SkyTrain station.

The Brunette originates in Burnaby Lake and flows through Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam before entering the Fraser River. In April, Trans Mountain was ordered to stop cutting down trees on the Burnaby side of the river due to hummingbirds nesting nearby.

Some activists are also concerned that hummingbird nests — identified by the Community Nest Finding Network — at Colony Farm Regional Park in Coquitlam will be affected by pipeline project staging taking place there.

However, Trans Mountain says the Colony Farm work is not effected by the stop-work order in Burnaby.

"Trans Mountain will proceed with any work in the area not subject to restrictions of the Order and our work on the Expansion Project continues in all other regions and areas," a spokesperson stated in an email.

However, protesters are also concerned about the impact of pipeline construction on salmon as well as the Nooksack dace, a fish designated as endangered under the species at risk act.

The attempt to block a backhoe in New Westminster was the second anti-pipeline protest in three-days.

On Saturday, First Nations leaders gathered in Coquitlam 's Maquabeak Park for a water ceremony and to take a stand against the pipeline construction.

Among those who attended the protest was Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA Fin Donnelly.

Donnelly, a former federal MP who swam the Fraser River twice to raise awareness about its importance to B.C., said on Twitter he “attended a powerful Water Ceremony with those opposed to putting a dangerous oil pipeline under the Fraser River, one of the greatest salmon rivers on the planet.”

Colony Farm Regional Park in Coquitlam is a staging area for a horizontal directional drilling operation under the Fraser River while construction has begun on a 2.6-kilometre tunnel in Burnaby, B.C., for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. 

Now owned by the federal government, the $12.6 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project is slowly making its way from Alberta to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.

The First Nations leaders who attended the ceremony at Maquabeak Park expressed concern that a pipeline filled with diluted bitumen poses a risk to the sensitive Fraser River ecosystem.

“Canada is gambling the Fraser River to squeeze a few more dollars out of the tar sands before they are going to have to be shut down," stated Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Executive Board member of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and one of the matriarchs who held the ceremony. "The writing is on the wall. Canada continues to build this pipeline without the consent of many Indigenous communities, risking the salmon, the whales and the very foundations of Indigenous life.“