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Westover pipeline construction blocked

Jun 20, 2013

This morning a group of about 60 people occupied a Westover pumping station to block on-going construction activity on the controversial pipeline that Enbridge has applied to use for shipment of tar sands bitumen across southern Ontario. They are calling on others concerned about the Line 9 plans to attend a rally tomorrow morning in the public park across the road from the construction site. 

“The construction at Westover and along Line 9B is happening as if Line 9B has already been approved. It hasn’t – in fact public hearings are scheduled for later in August,” says a media release issued earlier this morning. “What’s worse is that the admissions criteria to be part of these hearings were impossible to meet, shutting out most community voices.”

CBC Hamilton news is reporting live from the site and indicates the occupation is peaceful and the group have set up tents and asked Enbridge workers to leave. The protesters are using social media tools to convey their message to the public.

“We are establishing a camp on Enbridge property in the middle of the Beverly Swamp, the largest remaining forested wetland in Southern Ontario. The health of this wetland is crucial to the health of the Spencer Creek, which feeds Cootes Paradise, the beautiful marshland that forms the western end of Lake Ontario. Protecting the water is vitally important — once water is poisoned, it can’t be undone,” says a Swamp Line 9 tumblr post. “This is also stolen Indigenous land and is the traditional territory of the Chonnonton people as well as of the Mississagi Anishinabec and the Onondawaga Haudenosaunee. This pipeline crosses the territories of dozens of Indigenous nations along its route, including the Six Nations of the Grand River who have taken an inspiring lead in building resistance to Line 9.”

Enbridge’s proposals to add bitumen to its pipeline, reverse the flow direction, and increase volumes by 25 percent to 6000 barrels a minute are scheduled to be examined at an autumn hearing of the National Energy Board. But rule changes imposed on the NEB by the federal Conservative government’s omnibus legislation have also generated controversy.

Individuals and groups wishing to submit letters of concern were first required to get approval through a written application process that was available for less than two weeks. The omnibus legislation also gave the Harper cabinet the power to overrule any decision by the NEB and eliminated federal environmental assessment of thousands of project including the Line 9 proposals – changes offered by the protesters as one of the reasons for their occupation.

“What we found was a rigged game, where the political party most indebted to the oil industry had taken spectacular measures to remove the usual environmental oversights from Line 9 and other pipeline projects. The Line 9 reversal is, from the perspective of the powerful, a foregone conclusion and they have insultingly offered only the most meaningless opportunities for public engagement.”

The occupation is on Concession 6 in Flamborough, just west of Westover Road. Enbridge has a tank farm on the south side of the road behind a public park, and the occupied pumping station site is directly opposite on the north side. Protesters are urging supporters to “drop by the site” and join a rally in the public park at 11 am on Friday morning.

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