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British Columbia Anti-pipeline protesters to gather on Burnaby Mountain ahead of court injunction

A camp setup by protesters blocks the entrance to a trail on Burnaby Mountain where work is to be done by Kinder Morgan in preparation for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project on Nov 14, 2014.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Opponents of Kinder Morgan's plan to expand a pipeline carrying Alberta oil to the British Columbia coast were expected to gather Monday afternoon on a mountain near Vancouver, where protesters have been ordered to clear an encampment that has blocked work crews.

Protesters have been attempting to prevent the energy giant from conducting survey work on Burnaby Mountain related to the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Kinder Morgan wants to triple the capacity of the pipeline, which starts near Edmonton and stretches about 1,000 kilometres to Burnaby. Its preferred route would tunnel a section of pipeline through Burnaby Mountain, which is the home of Simon Fraser University and a conservation area.

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The company sued several activists and sought an injunction, which it received last Friday, when a judge ordered protesters to clear their encampment and keep out of the way of the pipeline work. The judge set a deadline of Monday at 4 p.m.

A rally was planned on the mountain to mark the injunction deadline.

Simon Fraser University biochemistry professor Lynne Quarmby, who is among the defendants in Kinder Morgan's lawsuit, said the protesters are diverse and don't all belong to a single group, so she couldn't say whether everyone would abide by the injunction.

"I'm pretty sure there is going to be a lot of people on the mountain this afternoon," Quarmby said in an interview.

"As to whether or not anyone is going to violate the injunction, I have no idea. I think we just have to wait and see."

A B.C. Supreme Court judge concluded that allowing the protesters to continue blocking work crews would cause Kinder Morgan irreparable financial harm. The judge cited the "misuse" of bullhorns, aggressive language and other actions designed to thwart the company's work.

Kinder Morgan issued a news release that said Trans Mountain representatives visited the protesters at two locations Monday afternoon and read out the injunction and enforcement order, though the company did not intend to resume work that day.

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The news release said the company was working with the RCMP but hoped the protesters would respect the injunction. The RCMP did not return a call requesting comment.

The company plans to bore two small holes and then drill 250 metres into the mountain.

Quarmby said there is a long list of problems with the pipeline, including the impact of Alberta oil on climate change, as well as the failure to respect the rights of First Nations and properly consult them.

She said recent changes in federal environmental laws have limited the ability of critics such as herself to be involved in the regulatory process, and she noted that the National Energy Board does not plan to look at the potential impact on climate change during its review of the proposed expansion.

"There is a rapid push on LNG projects, on exporting coal, on developing the tar sands, on new pipelines, and in none of these projects do we get to talk about the impact on climate change — to me that's immoral, that's unethical," she said.

"There are just so many reasons why this is such a wrong project."

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The pipeline is facing opposition on many fronts, including lawsuits from First Nations, which are seeking to block the project altogether; the City of Vancouver, which wants climate change to be part of the energy board review; and the City of Burnaby, which accuses the company of violating municipal bylaws by cutting down trees.

The mayors of Vancouver and Burnaby, who were each returned to office in municipal elections over the weekend, have publicly opposed the pipeline expansion.

Karl Perrin of Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion said his group does not plan to violate the injunction, but members will be on site Monday afternoon. They will be dressed in black and carrying a mock casket, he said.

Perrin said he believes the federal government and the National Energy Board have "rigged" the process in favour of oil companies.

"We'll be having a silent vigil for the death of justice," Perrin said.

"There is a lot that is difficult to predict," he added when asked what would happen when the injunction takes effect.

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