Published in Politics
Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants. - Maggie Kuhn
There's a new giant in the Cowichan Valley, one that needs toppling. Steelhead LNG, a fossil fuel company from Vancouver, has been slowly but surely extending its local influence in preparation for a massive LNG project... In response, I organized a recent town hall meeting in South Cowichan in an attempt to put the project into perspective.
Steelhead LNG has been busy lately promoting its proposed Malahat LNG project, which would process 900 million cubic feet of fracked natural gas per day via a monstrous floating offshore facility at Bamberton, in the beautiful Saanich Inlet. The project would involve a pipeline across the Salish Sea and would bring tanker traffic directly past Salt Spring Island, through a number of Saanich Inlet hazard zones. Alarmed area residents recently staged their first protest, while Green Party leader Elizabeth May has called for increased environmental protections for the Inlet, citing its "globally unique ecosystem." According to Gary Holman, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, "there are a number of very serious safety and environmental concerns raised by the location of this particular proposal, which is near settlement areas and would impact one of the most unique and sensitive marine environments in Canada."
The best hope for stopping the project may lie with the Malahat Nation, stewards of the area for thousands of years. Despite claims of strong First Nations partnerships, Steelhead showed their true colours when they announced the project days after the Malahat Nation Chief and Council had resigned amidst a host of allegations. Equally as disturbing, the Malahat people were never given the chance to vote on the project. In contrast, both the Tsawwassen and Lax Kw'alaams First Nations voted on LNG projects proposed for their territories, and both communities rejected them (the latter community even refused an offer of $1 billion.) However, in a surprising turn of events, the Malahat people recently elected a new chief, Caroline Harry, who has expressed major concerns over the project.
In the face of plummeting LNG prices, public opposition and growing concern among Malahat Nation members and neighbouring First Nations communities, Steelhead LNG is relentlessly forging ahead. They've retained Pace Group for "community engagement campaigns" and to "raise the company's profile." They joined the South Cowichan Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, and will soon be bringing their slick presentation to the Duncan Chamber of Commerce; they've been wining-and-dining up to 15 people a time with "LNG 101" sessions at Arbutus Ridge; they've rented a community outreach office in Mill Bay. Meanwhile, they're quietly jumping through the necessary regulatory hoops.
Fracking With Our Coast
Victoria Times Colonist (though the Times Colonist reporter inexplicably framed it as an issue for Shawnigan Lake residents.)To present area residents with an alternate point of view, I organized Fracking With our Coast: The Malahat LNG Project, a town hall meeting that took place December 9 at the Shawnigan Lake Community Centre. Speakers discussed the overall need to divest from fossil fuel projects, specific concerns regarding this project, and alternatives for the future. The event was covered by CHEK-TV and the
The evening's presentations were filmed by Story in Focus and are now available below.
Part 1: Laurel Collins
Laurel is an organizer with Divest Victoria. She teaches Social Justice Studies and Political Sociology at the University of Victoria. In the past she has worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Northern Uganda, she spent time as the Program Coordinator at Victoria Women in Need, and is the co-editor of a book entitled Women, Adult Education, and Leadership in Canada. Her research and activism focus on theories and practices of violence and nonviolence, social movements, education and learning, as well as social and environmental justice.
Part 2: Adam Olsen
Born in Victoria, Adam was raised on Tsartlip First Nation in Brentwood Bay. Adam was elected to Central Saanich Council in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. He served as the Chair of Planning & Development and Water & Wastewater and represented the community on a number of boards and commissions including solid and liquid waste, Greater Victoria Public Library and the Regional Housing Trust Fund.
In 2013, Adam resigned his seat on Council to run provincially for the B.C. Green Party in Saanich North & Islands. Finishing third, in the closest three-way race in the province, Adam was less then 400 votes away from being elected.
In August 2013, Adam was appointed Interim-Leader of the B.C. Green Party. When the Party elects a new leader in early 2016, Adam will continue to focus his efforts on growing the Party's presence in the Capital Region and preparing to run for a second time in Saanich North.
Most recently, Adam founded the Saanich Inlet Network to raise awareness of Steelhead's proposed LNG facility and to help build a new vision for the future of Saanich Inlet.
Part 3: Guy Dauncey
Guy Dauncey is an author and futurist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate that vision into action. He lives on Vancouver Island, in Canada.
He is founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, co-founder of the Victoria Car Share Cooperative, and the author or co-author of ten books, including The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming. His most recent book is Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible.
Part 4: Greg Horne
Greg Horne discusses the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation's resistance to an LNG project proposed for Lelu Island. Greg is the energy coordinator for the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.
Bonus Video: Dr. Eoin Finn
Dr. Finn has prepared a through analysis of the Malahat LNG project and has raised a number of concerns. He will be addressing a South Cowichan audience in early 2016... In the meantime, here's the presentation he recently gave in Brentwood Bay.
- Sign up with the Saanich Inlet Network to receive campaign updates.
- Join the All Those Against the Malahat LNG Project Facebook page.
- Sign the Wilderness Committee's Stop Fracking petition.
- Pick up a NO LNG sign from Warmland Medicinal Cannabis Centre in Mill Bay.
- Stay tuned for future events, including an upcoming Cowichan screening of Fractured Land and a South Cowichan presentation by Dr. Eion Finn.
Fracking With Our Coast: The Malahat LNG Project was sponsored by the following: