Encounters with the mysterious Kinder Morgan workers of Burnaby Mountain [VIDEO]
The double perimeter of police tape around the site, and fences enclosing the drilling compound itself, ensured that those hoping to get close enough to the Kinder Morgan workers to engage them could not do so without being spotted at a distance and risking arrest.
A chance encounter with a Kinder Morgan worker being escorted to this site by two RCMP officers later that day, however, did provide some insight into how workers were handling the situation on the hill. Crossing paths on the the trails that take you out of the forest and back onto the streets of Burnaby, the worker greeted me with a cordial "good evening" as he passed. Once I started taking photos, though, he immediately sped up, perhaps surprised by the flash or suddenly anxious to get to the safety of the drill site. He quickly disappeared further up the path, the police keeping pace with him. It seems safe to conclude that he was somewhat on edge as a result of the protests.
Police escorting a Kinder Morgan worker up to borehole one as night falls on Burnaby Mountain.
Finally, an interview
A Kinder Morgan "no comment" policy may very well have been in effect for workers on the hill. When it was possible to engage with them, they routinely refused comment or just left. Indeed, Trans Mountain does not seem to have had an official spokesperson on Burnaby Mountain at any time during the events of the last few weeks of protest, so almost all contact with the company has been through head office spokespeople or press releases. Such communication does little to provide a sense of the character and thoughts of the men (there may have been women out there as well, it is currently unknown) in the hardhats and rain slickers on the ground, however.
It was not until November 27th, the day that Grand Chief Stewart Phillip crossed police lines and was arrested, that a Kinder Morgan employee at work on Burnaby Mountain agreed to speak with me.
Giles Stevenson, Chief Environmental Inspector for Trans Mountain (left) and a Kinder Morgan restoration crew.
The Kinder Morgan crew was highly noticeable. They were wearing bright orange and were gathered around a work truck at a slight distance from the assembly of police vans, officers, media and those on Ridgeview Drive awaiting the emergence of the Grand Chief and the Tsleil-Waututh elder Amy George from the forest above where they had been arrested earlier in the day.
Upon approaching the Kinder Morgan workers for comment, their crew chief was open to dialogue. His name was Giles Stevenson and he was the Chief Environmental Inspector for Trans Mountain. When the president of Kinder Morgan, Ian Anderson, says that Trans Mountain will "leave the mountain as healthy as we found it," Giles Stevenson is the guy (or someone like him) that gets sent in to try and make that happen.
At different moments throughout the interview Stevenson specified that he spoke on behalf of himself and the particular work he was assigned to do on Burnaby Mountain, not on behalf of Kinder Morgan as a whole.
He began by describing how he and his crew were there to "tidy up" the work site in order to "be as environmentally sensitive as we can."