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WTF Wednesday: pipeline company wants to build through B.C. Grizzly sanctuary

Vincent Colistro

Photos courtesy of Wayne McCroy and The Valhalla Wilderness Society

 

Amid the whirlwind of controversies surrounding rape and consent, I’m reminded of the cliché, “raping the land”. It’s a grisly metaphor that’s come to signify the senseless destruction of an otherwise innocent place. Nowhere is that metaphor better actualized than in the laying of a pipeline through the pristine B.C. interior.

And have the pipeline companies asked for consent?

A subcontractor for TransCanada Corp. has, on two separate occasions, attempted to begin building a pipeline through the Khutzeymateen Inlet Conservancy, a sanctuary to around 50 grizzly bear, and on each occasion been asked to desist. Now, say sources in the area, they’re trying a third time. “The Kwinimass Conservancy and the Khutzeymateen Inlet Conservancy are currently being invaded by helicopters as crews survey the route for a 4-foot diameter pipeline that would require a 200-foot right-of-way,” reads a September 5 press release from the Valhalla Wilderness Society.

“The pipeline corridor will shatter the ecological integrity of the whole area,” adds Wayne McCroy, director for VWA and also a bear biologist, “and is a threat to every grizzly bear for miles around.” As someone who’s researched grizzlies since 1985, and was instrumental in creating the sanctuary, McCroy laments the intrusion of the pipeline companies: “If this pipeline corridor is allowed through these protected areas, the first thing it’s going to do is totally violate the spirit and intent of the Park Act and set a horrible precedent for these sorts of things.”

He adds: “Why does the economy have to come first? Are we going to start building coal mines in Jasper National Park, and Nuclear plants in Banff Park?”

The company’s project, McCroy says, would require large industrial roads and a staging area to be built on the edge of the inlet fjord, in order to build a nearly 2km pipe across the inlet. The scale of the removal of pristine old-growth rainforest from the protected areas would cause irreparable damage. “No matter what kind of guidelines they promise”, he says, “there will be conflicts with grizzly bears.”

“These areas are sacred”, he adds, “and if we as a government, as a people, as a democracy, allow this to happen, it sends a message to the world that Canada doesn’t care about their environment.” Despite receiving legislative protection by BC in 1994, after an exhaustive 9-year battle with the timber industry, the Khutzeymateen grizzly bear sanctuary remains a coveted area for industries who, it seems, believe a dead bear, in the right light, looks rather like a dollar sign.

You can learn more about the ongoing struggle at their website, http://www.vws.org/

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