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Kinder Morgan slaps Burnaby residents with multi-million-dollar lawsuit

“I feel outraged politically that this could happen in a democracy – that a foreign massive company can accuse you of trespassing on a park" - SFU professor Stephen Collis

Kinder Morgan crews meet citizens on Burnaby Mountain - Mychaylo Prystupa
Kinder Morgan survey crews confronted by protesters deep in the conservation forest of Burnaby Mountain on Wednesday. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

Texas-based Kinder Morgan has hit several Burnaby residents and two SFU professors, who have spoken out against the company’s pipeline test work on Burnaby Mountain, with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit according to the defendants' lawyer. 

SFU professor Stephen Collis received the 1000-page stack of legal papers at his university office, just before he went out to teach his literature class late Thursday.

“Personally, you feel pretty freaked out – when they start saying $5.6 million in damages, and all this jazz.”

“I feel outraged politically that this could happen in a democracy – that a massive foreign company can accuse you of trespassing on a park.  That they can use the courts and their money and influence from barring you from your constitutional right to free speech,” said Collis on Friday morning.

SFU professor Stephen Collis on Burnaby Mountain - Mychaylo Prystupa

SFU professor Stephen Collis on Burnaby Mountain on Wednesday after citizens clashed with company crews - photo by Mychaylo Prystupa

In court papers, the company states several citizens have obstructed and interfered with its field studies to assess the feasibility of an underground tunnel for the last leg of its proposed Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline.

Adam Gold, Mia Nissen, Stephen Collis, Lynne Quarmby, Alan Dutton and the pipeline-opponent-citizen’s group "BROKE" were all served papers late Thursday.  Many of the defendants are expected to appear in court Friday at 2pm in the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

“Trans Mountain is seeking an injunction order against trespassers on Burnaby work sites so that we can safely continue field studies mandated by the [National Energy Board]," wrote Kinder Morgan's senior project director, Greg Toth.

"Our preference is to work cooperatively, and we respect the right to peaceful protest.  However, we are required by the NEB to complete these studies in order to support our application, and we are pursuing our legal options,” he added.

Kinder Morgan: delays costing millions of dollars per month

In the affidavit, Kinder Morgan states that each month the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project is delayed, the company incurs $5,643,000 in expenses, as well as $88 million per month in lost revenues.

Many of the defendants were on Burnaby Mountain on Wednesday when company crews clashed with dozens of citizens deep inside the forest conservation park.  Many citizens got in the face of the crew members and hurled insults.  An 18-year-old also pinned himself under a Kinder Morgan SUV to prevent it from leaving.

The company crews responded by filming the protesters with videocameras.  The multinational giant was recently granted access to the area by Canada's National Energy Board, against the wishes of the City of Burnaby.

Kinder Morgan crew member videotaping protester on Burnaby Mountain - Prystupa

Kinder Morgan crew member videotaping a protester on Burnaby Mountain on Wednesday - Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa

The company is now seeking to have residents barred from interfering with its field work further, and have provided a map to show where it would like citizens to not go.

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