SFU students marched down Burnaby Mountain yesterday to protest the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Tim Takaro / Submitted

SFU students, faculty march down Burnaby Mtn in protest of TMX expansion

About 150 people, many of them SFU students, marched down Burnaby Mountain yesterday in protest of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

By Srushti Gangdev | December 8, 2021 |5:00 am

About 150 people, many of them SFU students, marched down Burnaby Mountain yesterday in protest of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The march began as an extracurricular activity in a first year health sciences course taught by Dr Kate Tairyan, but organizers with activist group Protect the Planet Stop TMX say interest in the event spread beyond that classroom.

“It’s great to have students [involved]. They’re the ones who are going to inherit the brunt of the bad policy that’s being made today,” said Dr Tim Takaro, who’s an activist with PPSTMX and also a professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at SFU.

“So it’s great to see them expressing themselves and learning how to fight the system.”

Takaro called the students who gathered for the march “a spirited group,” and said many people in the community—especially those who live on Burnaby Mountain—are also in support of PPSTMX.

Residents of UniverCity and SFU have raised concerns about what would happen if a fire were to break out at the Trans Mountain tank farm, with limited ways on and off the mountain. Just before the snap federal election was called earlier this year, the Liberal government promised funding for a new firehall on the mountain.

This past spring, the Canada Energy Regulator conducted a fire drill at the facilities, saying the company was able to respond to a fire in two-and-a-half hours—“well within” the four-hour goal.

Earlier this year, Trans Mountain told the Beacon its facilities meet “the most stringent safety standards” and that, in 65 years of operation, the company has never had a tank fire break out.

Takaro is a prominent activist who has, over the past year and a half, periodically conducted “tree-sits” in Burnaby to block Trans Mountain work. Late last month, he was arrested for breaching a BC Supreme Court injunction which prevents the blocking of access to Trans Mountain worksites.

Burnaby RCMP told the Beacon Takaro had been escorted down from the tree he had been occupying and placed under arrest. He was released on scene and given a court date.

But Takaro said his commitment to continuing civil disobedience against the pipeline expansion has not been diminished by that run-in with the law.

“My career, especially the second half of it, has been focused on the health impacts of climate change. So that’s what I do. As a scientist, this is just the culmination of that work,” he said.

“Here we are in 2021—the world is saying stop building new fossil energy infrastructure. And right here at my university, we’re building new fossil energy infrastructure. There’s something wrong with this. And so it’s something that I will certainly finish my career doing.”

With files from Dustin Godfrey

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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