It’s all about direct action. That’s what a group called Swamp line 9 believes, and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.
The first thing they did was put a lock on the Gates to Enbridge’s line 9 pumping station – the mid-point for the line 9 pipeline that runs between Sarnia and Montreal. They want to stop Enbridge from preparing a pipeline reversal, an increase to the flow and adding raw bitumen to the procedure.
When Scot Furguson and I first arrived the protest was peaceful. There were 25-30 tents set up and only one officer parked on the street. The protesters were armed to the teeth with food and supplies to get them through the eternity it would take to stop Enbridge from carrying out their plans.
“We’re in here for the long haul,” said David Prychitka, a member of Swamp Line 9.
They took their actions further when they we’re served an injunction to leave the property; they barricaded themselves. There were four people who stayed in the barricade after the police arrested about 30 protesters. One of them had a bike lock around her neck.
Another individual named Sigrid, who was on top of the barricade, issued a statement, “I’m doing this because I have to, for the future. Because someone has to do something now.”
When Scot Ferguson and I tried to see how Swamp Line 9 was fairing with the injunction the road was blocked by police a kilometre from the station. Right away I saw two people who escaped the arrests of about 30 protesters that morning. They looked exhausted and bewildered. One of the escapees was an aboriginal man, Sewatis from the Oshewega Grand River, and the other was a young lady named Jordanna Heywood.
They were there a few days prior, coming out to help support the cause that Heywood found out about through the explosion of protests across the province.
“We need solutions and solutions need to come from the people. We need to create a better world,” said Heywood.
Others began to pile in along with the local Hamilton media. Among them were people from the Council of Canadians like Henry Evans-Tenbrinkle.
He’s worried about Enbridge’s policy on when they decide to repair or maintain the pipelines.
“They only repair parts of the pipeline that have degradations of 40 per cent or more,” said Evans-Tenbrinke.
He’s also worried about places the pipe crosses that are wetlands or near waterways.
“If a spill happens in the Beverly swamp there’s no way to clean it up.”
The media leason from The Canadian Council, Elysia Petrone, voices against line 9 at the public hearings and has been circulating petitions to bring awareness to citizens and politicians.
She believes there’s no due process here in Ontario as there has been in Quebec regarding line 9. The federal leader of the NDP went to Quebec and has been supporting activists, and Petrone wants the same treatment in Ontario.
During the brunt of the lockdown at the Westover station she had a lot of negative vibes from locals including a farmer spraying pesticides on the protesters.
“Some people waited in the parking lot and follow us,” she said.
Enbridge has been doing a good job with keeping the locals happy and informed says one local, Donna Vanderhaut, who lives down the street from the Westover station.
“I trust them to know their job from the paperwork they send us,” said Vanderhaut, explaining how Enbridge communicates with the direct locals. “We do need oil.”
She’s been living there for 25 years and says Enbridge helps secure employment among many of the locals. But the protest and the lockdown has caused some mixed emotions.
“It made us all uncomfortable knowing there are protesters,” she said.
Finally, after the local media exhausted some of the protesters and activists with questions, the Media contact from Enbridge came out looking slightly scared. At his sides were Hamilton police officers protecting him from possible irate activists.
The multi camera scrum set afire. Petrone did her best to interfere by shouting over the scripted responses in the obvious question and answer period between the media and the quivering messenger.
“We provide a tremendous amount of outreach,” said the media contact, Grahm White. “The oil will be no more corrosive than any other crude,” assuring that raw bitumen wouldn’t be worse than light crude in the event of a spill.
He explained how they have 15 open houses to allow dialogue with concerned citizens and the media, but many of the activists and protesters disagreed with the transparency of them.
If Swamp Line 9, Environmental Defence, Stop the Tar Sands KW or any other group that’s in solidarity with stopping the line 9 reversal they’ll have to convince the National Energy Board at their hearing this summer.
Tags: Council, David Prychitka, Donna Vanderhaut, Elysia Petrone, Enbridge, Environmental Defence, Grahm White, Jordanna Heywood, living, National energy Board, NDP, Quebec, something, Swamp Line, young