Bill Winder awaits pickup in Hume Park after his arrest for contempt of court. Winder had occupied a tree in the path of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and was removed from the tree Wednesday by police. Still around his neck is the U-lock he used to fasten himself to the tree. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)

RCMP removes tree-sits removed from TMX path

A pair of "sky pods" were blocking Trans Mountain pipeline expansion work in the Brunette River area of Burnaby

By Dustin Godfrey | September 23, 2021 |5:00 am

Within less than a day, Bill Winder scaled a 70-foot tree, slept in said tree, was removed from the tree by police in a cherry picker, arrested, charged, given a court date, and released.

Next up, he told Burnaby Beacon, was to find a locksmith who could get the bike lock off of his neck—a lock whose key he tossed. Sitting on a wooden railing in New Westminster’s Hume Park, he joked that the U-lock closed around his neck may become the new style in Vancouver.

Attached to the U-lock, which remained intact, is another bike lock, this one a thick cable, which has a cut clean through it.

When Winder made his way into the tree overnight Tuesday to occupy a “sky pod” that sought to block the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Burnaby, he attached the U-lock to his neck and to the cable lock, which in turn was attached to the tree.

In the end, it wasn’t much of a delay for the RCMP tactical unit to extract him from the tree.

“I think it was maybe 1,000 tonnes of carbon,” Winder said.

That’s how he measured his time up in the tree—by the carbon that would have been emitted due to TMX during that timespan. The more the police were stalled from getting him out of the tree the more tonnes—and even megatonnes—he believes he would have prevented from being emitted.

“So I should have found a way to delay a bit more,” Winder said.

Winder removed from tree-sit

A group of supporters watches on as Bill Winder rappels down from the "sky pod" he was occupying, blocking Trans Mountain pipeline expansion work.
A group of supporters watches on as Bill Winder rappels down from the “sky pod” he was occupying, blocking Trans Mountain pipeline expansion work. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)

Winder was in 1 of 2 sky pods set up in the Brunette River area of Burnaby, where tree removal work has been underway to build the controversial pipeline.

Police first approached the other sky pod but discovered it was empty. An excavator and lumberjacks cleared a path through the piles of cut-down trees for a cherry picker—referred to by protesters as the “tank” for its caterpillar tread and its size—to access the second pod.

Police used the cherry picker to get up to Winder’s position in the tree and to get him down.

Winder was ultimately charged with criminal contempt of court for violating a court order that blocked people from obstructing work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion through the Brunette River area.

According to a Burnaby RCMP news release, police read out a copy of the injunction at 8am yesterday and gave tree sitters an opportunity to leave or face arrest. At around 10:40am, Winder was “safely arrested and escorted from the tree-sit with the assistance of officers with specialized training in high-angle rescue.”

As he descended from the tree, about a dozen supporters cheered and sang from the other side of a containment fence.

He was then given a November court date and released in Hume Park, where he awaited pickup from friends.

‘We’re not going anywhere’

Bill Winder is guided by police away from the site of his tree-sit protest against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in the Brunette River area.
Bill Winder is guided by police away from the site of his tree-sit protest against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in the Brunette River area. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)

Winder and other protesters blocking the pipeline work say it’s about the future of the planet. Anti-TMX activists note the construction of the pipeline is linked to expansion in Alberta’s oilsands, which they say is impossible to do while also meeting climate targets.

Climate change is already responsible for significant weather events, including this summer’s heat wave—the deadliest weather event in Canadian history—and the wildfire that burned down the entire town of Lytton, among other events.

“We’re not going anywhere. We have 2 structures that are much more difficult to take down than these,” said Dr Tim Takaro, a physician and SFU professor, who set up the original Brunette River tree-sit in August 2020.

“This pipeline will not be built. It can’t be built. We owe it to our children to stop it.”

After Winder was removed from the tree, removals continued, according to activists.

Christine Thuring, with Protect the Planet Stop TMX, suggested to Burnaby Beacon last week that removing the tree-sits could be “game over” for the resistance against the pipeline in the area.

But Takaro was more optimistic, saying there are still plenty of trees that can be occupied in Burnaby.

An RCMP tactical unit works to get Bill Winder out of a tree-sit in the Brunette River area of Burnaby. The tree-sit blocked work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
An RCMP tactical unit works to get Bill Winder out of a tree-sit in the Brunette River area of Burnaby. The tree-sit blocked work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)
An RCMP tactical unit works to get Bill Winder out of a tree-sit in the Brunette River area of Burnaby. The tree-sit blocked work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
An RCMP tactical unit officer watches with binoculars as other officers work to get Bill Winder out of a tree-sit in the Brunette River area of Burnaby. The tree-sit blocked work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)
Dr Tim Takaro takes video of police working to remove Bill Winder from an anti-Trans Mountain pipeline expansion tree-sit in the Brunette River area of Burnaby.
Dr Tim Takaro takes video of police working to remove Bill Winder from an anti-Trans Mountain pipeline expansion tree-sit in the Brunette River area of Burnaby. (Dustin Godfrey / Burnaby Beacon)

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Dustin Godfrey

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