RCMP investigate hazardous blockade on Houston area road, as CGL clarifies intentions

John Crawford
01/09/2020

The RCMP say they're investigating after officers from the Community-Industry Safety Office near Houston found felled trees and other man-made hazards along a road Coastal GasLink has been trying to access for work on its planned pipeline to Kitimat.

A news release late yesterday  says officers found several dozen trees felled across the Morice West Forest Service Road on Monday, as well as hazardous partially-cut trees and three covered stacks of tires containing jugs of fuel, kindling and fuel-soaked rags.

Aerial photos of the obstruction were posted on the Coastal GasLink website this week -- but the RCMP have posted ground-view photographs of what they found online and say they've brought the concerning items to the attention of the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs.

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In their release, the RCMP say they are impartial in this dispute and their priority is to facilitate a dialogue and ensure the safety of individuals at the indigenous Healing Centre in the area, Coastal GasLink employees and the general public traveling along the corridor.

Meantime, a Coastal GasLink spokesperson says there's some confusion over the company's intentions regarding an enforcement order posted to the Coastal GasLink website this week.

The order, posted Tuesday, gives pipeline opponents 72 hours to clear the way to its work site south of Houston, saying that after that, the company was at liberty to remove the obstructions itself.

But in an email, Coastal GasLink spokesperson Suzanne Wilton says the order is simply a procedural requirement and does NOT indicate a request for enforcement whatsoever.

She says the company stands by its statement Monday that it prefers dialogue to confrontation while engagement and a negotiated resolution remain possible.


=== RCMP NEWS RELEASE BELOW ===

Hazardous blockade of fallen trees on Morice West Forest Service Road in Houston

Houston

2020-01-08 14:29 PST

 

Our frontline officers working from the Community-Industry Safety Office (C-ISO) continue to conduct patrols along the Morice West Forest Service Road to ensure the safety of individuals at the Healing Centre, Coastal GasLink employees, and general public traveling along the corridor.

On January 6, 2020, during the course of regular patrols, officers attended the 39.5 kilometer mark and were stopped by a blockade of fallen trees. Officers conducted foot patrols towards the 44 kilometer mark, and noted several dozen trees had been felled across the roadway.

Of particular concern for safety, they noted some trees that were partly cut in readiness for felling. This creates a hazard where these trees can fall unexpectedly due to wind. Three stacks of tires were also noticed, each covered by tarps and trees, and contained several jugs of accelerants – gasoline, diesel, oil, kindling and bags full of fuel soaked rags (see photos attached).

These concerning items have been brought to the attention of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. They have also been advised that the RCMP has entered into a criminal investigation under Section 247 of the Criminal Code for Traps Likely to Cause Bodily Harm.

While the RCMP respects the rights of individuals to peaceful, lawful and safe protest, within the terms set by the BC Supreme Court in the injunction, our primary concerns are public and police officer safety. We will take steps to ensure that those who unlawfully interfere with or threaten the safety of any person or property may be held accountable in accordance with the laws of Canada. This applies to demonstrators, industry employees and contractors, as well as the general public.

We want to emphasize that we are impartial in this dispute and our priority is to facilitate a dialogue between the various stakeholders involved. We remain hopeful that these efforts will result in a resolution.

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