Spill could kill tourism, shellfish, say Parksville protesters

MLA not at his office — he said later he didn’t know about protest beforehand

Local members of Communities to Protect Our Coast

Local members of Communities to Protect Our Coast

More than 200 people attended an rally in the rain Wednesday in Parksville.

The peaceful gathering was organized by the same coalition that organized a Victoria sit-in Monday and planned rallies in more than 60 B.C. communities. They were rallying against oil tankers on the B.C. Coast.

“More and more people realize this is about our economic future, about keeping jobs for Canadians,” said Myst deVann one of the organizers with Leadnow.ca.

“If we have a major spill like in the Gulf of Mexico or Alaska it will impact our tourism industry, fishing, forestry, that would only leave mining,” she said.

“Our mission is to prevent tankers from moving through the great bear rainforest, which means stopping the pipeline,” she said, adding that while protesting pipelines in general, their group is focusing on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat.

As in other communities, protesters gathered in front of the MLA’s office and linked arms down the block in a symbolic “unbroken wall of opposition across B.C.” organizers said.

But some expressed frustration that Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon was unavailable.

“There’s all kinds of people here, teachers, doctors, it’s not like we were going to throw tomatoes at him,” said protester Thea Stavroff of Cantelon.

“All he had to do is come out and say ‘I hear your concerns.’”

Cantelon later told The NEWS he did hear the concerns and was disappointed he didn’t know about the protest beforehand. He said he was attending  a previously scheduled meeting.

“It’s an important part of democracy, and I support everyone’s right to protest in front of their MLA’s office.”

On the topic of the protest he said, “The premier has been explicit — there will be no compromise on the environment or safety concerns for this project.”

He said he shares the environmental concerns of everybody in the province.

The protests have been supported by a long list of groups including ForestEthics, the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace, several First Nations, celebrities and high-profile figures like David Suzuki and Stephen Lewis.

Local members of co-organizing group Communities to Protect Our Coast submitted a list of questions to Cantelon after the protest.

 

A three-member environmental review panel has until the end of next year to complete its report.