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Port Metro Vancouver staff break our megaphone at coal protest

The Council of Canadians is working with Rising Tide to stop a proposed expansion at the Fraser Surrey Docks in Vancouver which would move up to 8 million metric tonnes of coal off rail cars and onto barges for eventual shipping offshore. Rising Tide has stated, “If the project is approved, Vancouver would become the biggest coal exporter in North America, and the associated carbon emissions would be greater than BC’s current total annual carbon output.”

Yesterday, a group of six activists dressed as Santa Claus went to the Port of Vancouver (the body that will make the decision about the dock expansion) to deliver sacks of coal (a tradition which says that someone who behaves badly will receive only a lump of coal for Christmas).

Photo by Murray Bush
Photos by Murray Bush

The Vancouver Observer reports, “Several port employees tried to detain the Santas and apparently tried to throw them out of the offices and down the stairs. …Activist Peter James bore the brunt of the violence as port employees attempted to stop him from speaking. ‘I got inside with the megaphone and went in to communicate that we didn’t support the coal port expansion and that we were here to stop it and that we hold the port responsible for furthering global climate change’, he said. ‘Then I was pushed by several people down the stairs, and there were very large men in suits trying to take the megaphone from me.’ Three men pinned him to the ground and ripped the megaphone out of his hand and broke it.”

That megaphone was on loan to the Santas from the Delta/ Richmond chapter of the Council of Canadians. We’ll be replacing their megaphone and the chapter will consider sending the bill to the Port Metro Vancouver and asking for compensation for their destruction of this property.

The Province notes, “The stunt of Santas giving coal to the Port was an attempt to bring attention to an impending deadline. Public consultation ends Tuesday on an environmental consultation report about Port Metro’s plan for a massive coal-shipping operation at the Surrey Fraser Docks. The report was done by SNC Lavalin and concluded the facility would ‘not likely cause significant adverse affects to the environment or human health’. But the report was criticized by the chief medical health officers of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Fraser Health.”

Last December, the Georgia Straight reported, “The port authority is reviewing an application by Fraser Surrey Docks to develop a ‘direct-transfer coal facility’ to handle up to four million metric tonnes per year—with a potential to rise to eight million metric tonnes per year over the long term. Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s holding company, wants to bring the coal in by rail to be loaded onto 8,000 deadweight-tonne barges. They would be towed to Texada Island. From there, the coal would be stored and then placed onto deep-sea vessels for export to overseas markets.”

Further reading
Opposition growing to Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal expansion

Photo by Murray Bush.