Whistlerites gather for a town hall meeting on the federal government's Trans Mountain Pipeline purchase 

Attendees encouraged to protest pipeline in the future if opposed

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE - TOWN HALL A group of Whistlerites gathered on July 16 to talk about the Kinder Morgan purchase.
  • PHOTO by Joel Barde
  • TOWN HALL A group of Whistlerites gathered on July 16 to talk about the Kinder Morgan purchase.

The federal government's decision to purchase Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline for $4.5 billion has frustrated many Sea to Sky residents. Yet rather than despair, a group of environmentally minded Whistlerites gathered at the Whistler Public Library on Monday, July 16 to discuss the decision.

The attendees, some 36 people, were encouraged to send postcards to Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP, about how they feel about the deal, which is expected to close this summer.

"You never have to put a stamp on it when you are sending (an MP) letters. So write her letters, and just pop it in the mail," said event organizer Marie Binet.

Goldsmith-Jones and MLA Jordan Sturdy were both invited to the event but did not attend.

A documentary film, Directly Affected, was shown during the evening. Highly critical of the National Energy Board approval process and the Trudeau government, the documentary follows the journey of the filmmaker, who eventually lands on the frontlines of the Kinder Morgan protest.

During a discussion period that followed the movie, Whistler Councillor Jack Crompton said that it is important to recognize the power of peaceful protest.

Crompton recalled how he and his daughter took part in protests of the Iraq war. Canada, he noted, never declared war on Iraq.

"For me, that's always marked in my mind that doing that kind of stuff has value and that the work you are putting in ... matters," he said.

Whistlerite Angela Mellor suggested that the Resort Municipality Of Whistler (RMOW) could look at ways to encourage people to retrofit their home with things like solar panels by offering a rebate program of some sort.

"For $50 or $100, people might say 'yeah, I'll do it.' We do have a lot of people with a higher than median income, and perhaps that could be just something that could get the ball rolling," she said.

Coun. Cathy Jewett said that there are some subsidies coming that will be available to put towards retrofitting Whistler homes. She also highlighted regional transit, which the RMOW hopes to have established by next year, as an important step in our collective "effort to reduce our energy."

Much of the discussion focused on the nature of protesting the Kinder Morgan decision, with Binet explaining that she was in fact arrested on March 22—World Water Day.

Binet said that she is facing a $3,000 fine or 150 hours of community service, but added that the courts are now choosing to be more severe with protesters who are arrested, raising the punishment to seven days in jail.

"There is a lot of scare tactics being put out ... they're trying to keep people from (protesting)," she said.

Binet and others encouraged the group to consider protesting, underlining that protesting is a democratic right and that there is little risk of being arrested.

Whistlerite Sue Stangel shared that she had taken part in her first protest recently, as part of the Kinder Morgan action.

"I would encourage everyone in this room to go to one of the protests in Vancouver sometime," said Stangel.

"I'd never been a protester before, and I went this year. It's a really eye-opening, and it makes you feel good to take the time to go.

"Those people are genuine and they believe in what they are doing."

Following the event, Coun. Jen Ford said she enjoyed the film, though noted that she would have liked the discussion portion of the evening to carry on longer.

The movie features interviews with the mayors of Burnaby and Vancouver, both prominent critics of the Kinder Morgan decision, and Ford said she admires their dedication to the cause.

"They're putting their reputations and careers on the line, and it's because it's important work," she said.

Summing up the evening, Ford spoke to the spirit in the room, saying that passion is a reason that Whistler is a great place to live.

"We've got a lot of really passionate people in our community and we're really blessed to have such passion," said Ford. "I believe it's why our community is so successful, because we do have such passionate people with a diverse range of interests."

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