Civil disobedience is likely in the wake of the approval of the controversial Line 9 pipeline project, a local opponent said.
«It’s already starting,» said Rachel Avery, spokesperson for the Waterloo Region Coalition Against Line 9. «Line 9 is a very real threat to us.»
A group called Rising Tide Toronto called on people to engage in civil disobedience in response to the National Energy Board’s approval of Enbridge’s plan to reverse the flow and increase the capacity of the Line 9 pipeline running between Sarnia and Montreal.
Line 9 crosses Waterloo Region under the Grand River and parts of North Dumfries Township.
Rising Tide is asking supporters to sign up online by stating, «I pledge to support and/or engage in civil disobedience that may result in arrest in order to stop construction on Line 9.»
Avery said the 25 groups making up the local coalition haven’t yet taken a formal position on Rising Tide’s call to action. But she predicted a groundswell of grassroots resistance.
«I think we will see people taking action in the streets,» she said.
North Dumfries Township did not take a specific position on Line 9, but supported a submission from Waterloo Region asking the energy board to consider such things as fiscal responsibilities, the mitigation of potential risks and effective emergency response.
Mayor Rob Deutschmann said the threat of civil disobedience could pose concerns.
«If civil disobedience is educating the public in a positive way, then I’m all for that,» he said. «If civil disobedience is disrupting the lives of people … I don’t think that’s appropriate.»
Deutschmann said transporting oil in some manner is a reality in our energy-dependent society. Rail transportation has proven it carries its own risks, he said.
«At the end of the day, we have to have some faith in the people that are reviewing and assessing these things,» he said. «You’re not going to find a solution that’s going to make everybody happy.»
On Friday, Avery and a handful of others dropped off copies of a report called Line 9: Not Worth the Risk to MPP Catherine Fife and MP Peter Braid.
«One of the biggest concerns for us is if it spills into the Grand River, that is going to be devastating to the entire watershed,» Avery said.
The stretch of the pipeline running through Waterloo Region from Sarnia to North Westover, near Hamilton, had already been approved for reversal. The new approval gives Enbridge the green light to continue the eastbound flow to Montreal.
There is particular concern that the aging pipeline may begin to move more toxic types of oil, including diluted bitumen.
The opponents’ report states there’s a 90 per cent chance of Line 9 pipeline failure in the near term and that spill cleanup costs could reach $10 billion.
Avery said Enbridge and the federal government failed to consult with affected aboriginal groups on the Line 9 proposal. The energy board’s conditions don’t go nearly far enough to ensure accountability and safety, she added.