Controversial drilling for the planned expansion of a pipeline between Alberta and Burnaby is progressing well despite boisterous protests that have led to dozens of arrests, a project spokesperson says.
"There hasn't been any direct impact from the protests," Ali Hounsell, of the Trans-Mountain Expansion Project said Monday as the RCMP faced a number of protesters on Burnaby Mountain where exploratory drilling is under way.
"The work itself is not being hampered."
One 74-year-old woman was arrested after intentionally violating an injunction to keep protesters from interfering with the drilling for the Kinder Morgan project.
By Monday afternoon, there had been a total 78 arrests since the conflict began last week. Most detained have been charged with civil contempt for violating the injunction. Among those arrested was the grandson of noted environmentalist David Suzuki.
An 11-year-old girl was taken into custody Sunday, but not arrested, after her mother violated the injunction and was arrested, the RCMP said. They were both subsequently released.
Two people are facing criminal charges of assaulting a police officer and interfering with an arrest, RCMP Staff-Sergeant John Buis said, speaking on Monday for the Burnaby detachment of the RCMP.
Still, Ms. Hounsell said the work is likely to be completed early in December.
Crews are drilling a pair of 250-metre-deep holes that are 15 centimetres in diameter to assess the makeup of the mountain to help planning for the proposed pipeline, which has not yet been approved by the National Energy Board. Digging is under way 24 hours a day with the RCMP present throughout to enforce the injunction.
Ms. Hounsell said there had been "some extra layers of complexity" getting workers to the site, but the challenge has been managed so work can proceed. The company used helicopters to bring equipment, fencing and supplies to the area.
Work on one hole began last Friday and should be done by the middle of this week, but work on the second of two holes only began Monday. All of the work should be done in two weeks, Ms. Hounsell said.
After the drilling is finished, drill areas are to be cleaned up so there is no sign of the effort, she said.
"There's not a set time for how long it will take. There are a number of variables depending on what's beneath the surface," Ms. Hounsell said.
She said it's possible Kinder Morgan may have to look at seeking an extension of an ongoing injunction to facilitate the work because the court action expires on Dec. 1.
On Monday, 74-year-old Della Glendenning began the day of protest by walking into RCMP custody.
As she did, she expressed sympathy for the Mounties.
"The RCMP has been put in the position of protecting this house of cards that is called Kinder Morgan. I am here for my children and my grandchildren and perhaps great-grandchildren," she said, casting her activism as part of a larger effort to stop climate change.
As she walked to the waiting line of Mounties, one activist yelled, "If we had a red carpet, we'd roll it out for you Della."
As some activists sobbed, Ms. Glendenning was peacefully taken into custody by Mounties, who walked her away from the area. Staff-Sgt. Buis said Ms. Glendenning was released shortly after without charge.
Kinder Morgan is looking to triple its ability to ship oil from Alberta to a Burnaby terminal.
Protester Karen Mahon, also on the line at Burnaby Mountain, said the activism is stripping Kinder Morgan of its social licence to expand the pipeline.
"If enough people stand up, at some point our governments have to listen," she said. "If we've seen this level of protest over something that is just exploration, just imagine the level of protest there will be if they're actually crazy enough to try and build a pipeline."