Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver sparks discourse on controversial infrastructure

By Peak Web – May 30, 2024

By: Kaja Antic, Staff Writer

On Wednesday May 8, grassroots group Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver organized a banner drop in New Westminster. This was to protest the recent Canada Energy Regulator (CER) decision to approve operations for the Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX) expansion, which has its western terminus at the foot of Burnaby Mountain. The Peak sat down with Alison Bodine, a central organizer for Climate Convergence, to learn more.

“The CER is a government agency. The Trans Mountain Pipeline Corporation that built the pipeline is a Crown Corporation,” Bodine said, meaning a government owned corporation. “As far as oversight, it’s the government giving the government approval.” 

Bodine first got involved with Climate Convergence in 2015, while the news of the TMX expansion project was still fresh. The group works to unite volunteer organizations locally, nationally, and internationally, to build a stronger climate justice coalition overall. “I really believe that we can all make individual changes to impact our lives or the lives of our community. But really, we need to work together and have organizations that can help mobilize masses of people to build a mass movement in defense of Mother Earth.”

The pipeline project — which is now tens of billions of dollars over budget — has been resisted by Indigenous communities and climate activists since its announcement in 2013. 

“It is not safe to operate. They are not prepared for spills. They’re not prepared for fires on Burnaby Mountain,” Bodine said. To combat this, a new fire hall was built on Burnaby Mountain on University Drive. In the case of a fire near the Trans Mountain tank farm, the new location would save time for an emergency response. 

Despite over a decade of protests, the government approved the pipeline’s operation, and in 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected an application from the Squamish Nation, the Coldwater Indian Band, and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation to stop the expansion. Protests against its impending operation continue, Bodine asserted.


The Sacred Trust initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation has been advocating against the pipeline since 2011. They say that “the Tsleil-Waututh Nation has a sacred, legal obligation

to protect, defend, and steward the water, land, air, and resources of our territory.” They found in a report that the increased risk of spills, the logistics of spill clean-up, and the effect of the pipeline on cultural activities “does not represent the best use of Tsleil-Waututh territory.”

“We wanted to have this banner drop to demonstrate, first of all, to bring people together to say: ‘this fight, we’re continuing it.’”  She added, “The world can’t handle the greenhouse gas emissions that Canada is facilitating through building this pipeline.”

The pipeline is meant to transfer diluted bitumen from tar sands in Alberta to the Burrard Inlet. Spills of this oil in the US in recent years have been very difficult to clean up due to the varying densities of the substance.

Those against the project argue it’s dangerous to residents of Burnaby Mountain, including SFU. In 2021, The Peak reported on the risk of fires and that the “expansion” of tank farms puts “larger tanks between the already existing ones.” Therefore, “any existing buffer space that was built originally to prevent the spreading of a potential fire from one tank to another will be compromised,” and makes it easier for any potential fires to spread. This is only one aspect of the pipeline, as other concerns centre around danger to wildlife and climate change.

“The top climate scientists in the world tell us [climate action is] urgent, tell us change needs to come quickly. We do have a sense of urgency, and that calls us to the streets,” Bodine said. She also mentioned the recent banner demonstration gained support from drivers passing by, as well as street actions through a postcard campaign, and virtually through their social media pages.

“There’s space in the Climate Justice Movement for everyone from many different backgrounds to participate in. There’s different ways to be involved. Street actions, banner drops, webinars. But now is the time, and we need everyone to get involved in some capacity,” Bodine said. “We know the real solution is that we put the needs of people before those of profit and that we demand that of the government of Canada.”