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Stop Tilbury LNG: Steveston rally echoes with chants to protect B.C.

Protesters gathered outside MLA Kelly Greene’s office on Tuesday morning

“Protect B.C.! Go frack-free! Stop Tilbury LNG!” were some of the chants heard along Steveston’s waterfront on Tuesday morning.

About a dozen community members gathered outside Richmond-Steveston MLA Kelly Greene’s office on June 20 to protest against the proposed expansion of FortisBC’s Tilbury LNG.

The $3 to $3.5 billion Phase 2 expansion in Delta will include a new marine jetty and a twelve-fold increase in production capacity.

Municipalities including Richmond, New Westminster and Port Moody, along with local environmental groups have opposed the project, citing potential danger to salmon habitat in the Fraser River Estuary and the risk of accidents and spills with liquefied natural gas (LNG) just across the river from the jet fuel tank farm.

Some protesters were also concerned about the environmental impact caused by fracking, the process used to extract natural gas, as well as potential health concerns for those living near the sites.

Fracking is used in 91 per cent of the province’s gas production, which entails pumping gallons of pressurized, chemically treated water into shattered rock formations.

Peter McCartney, spokesperson of the Western Canadian Wilderness Committee and organizer of the event, said the aim of the protest was to urge the provincial and federal governments to reject the project. The marine jetty portion is currently awaiting approval from environment and transportation ministers.

“One of the big reasons we’re here is because of the climate impacts of the terminal. This is a fossil fuel expansion in an era where we’re already seeing deadly heat waves and record wildfires,” said McCartney.

“We cannot keep building fossil fuel infrastructure and expect to meet our climate goals.”

McCartney told the Richmond News Steveston was chosen for the rally because it is one of the communities at risk.

“If one of the tankers has an accident, it goes right through the area,” he explained, adding many community members in the area are opposed to the project as well.

One such community member is Dianne Milsom, who is a supporter of the Wilderness Committee.

“I felt it was important for me to be an active person in this issue. I live here. I also boat up and down the coast. And I understand the huge implications there would be for accidents and fracking itself, the damage that it does to underground supports and to communities,” she said. She added that she was thrilled with the turnout from Richmond, which can be “pretty conservative.”

Greene voted against the project in 2020 while she was a city councillor, stating it was the “wrong project for here,” but has since refused to clarify her position.

Greene’s office was not open during the protest, but McCartney told attendees he met with Greene last week.

“She knows that we are out here and that she will be bringing her constituents’ opposition to the provincial government,” he said.

The News reached out to Greene’s office for comment but was told she is “away out of town and unavailable for comment.”

- With files from Maria Rantanen, Valerie Leung and Chuck Chiang