Farm owner fears his horses will be “swimming in oil”

A farm dedicated to helping people could be jeopardized by oil in Energy East pipeline

Farm owner, Ryan Theriault, is worried for his horses. Photo by Janice Dickson
Ryan Theriault owns Tranquil Acres, photo by Janice Dickson

“The horses graze 5-10 feet from the pipeline, if there’s a spill, which I’m sure there will be, our horses will be swimming in oil,” said Ryan Theriault, owner of Tranquil Acres, a therapeutic equestrian centre outside of Ottawa.

The existing pipeline, which carries natural gas, runs just on the opposite side of Theriault’s property line and through wet lands that he owns.

He dreamed of owning and operating a horse therapy farm and he is worried that his property, nine horses and a donkey, are now in danger.  

“Our major concern is that this pipeline is between 30-40 years-old and its transporting natural gas. It’s going to be the exact same pipe and they’re going to be using it for tar sand bitumen,” said Theriault. 

TransCanada Corp. submitted its official application for the $12 billion project in late October. If approved, the pipeline will carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil a day from western refineries to the east coast.

TransCanada cannot comment on individual landowners, but one if its reps, Jonathan Abecassis, said TransCanada has held over 100 open houses since last summer to answer citizen’s questions. 

He also said the pipeline will be closely monitored.

“Every few seconds, satellites will relay information from the pipeline to our control center allowing us to monitor it constantly; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We will also conduct routine aerial and ground patrols by trained staff to visually monitor the pipeline as well,” he said.

While many property owners are sweating over the fact that a new pipeline will be constructed on or near their land, others, like Theriault, are concerned about an existing—and older—pipeline that will carry crude oil rather than natural gas.

Theriault said the news of pipeline conversion was brought to him by one of his clients.

“She was devastated about the pipeline,” he said. 

Theriault said the horse farm, his beloved business, means a lot to him - especially because of the help they offer. 

“The clients here have either social, emotional, physical or mental health issues that can range from anxiety, depression, ADHD, ADD, Autism, low self-esteem, phobias and more.”

“They usually come here, work with the horses – it’s very similar to in-office therapy, however, we’re doing experiential learning, it’s hands-on, and that helps people through their process in getting better,” he said.

Theriault's horses, photo by Janice Dickson

 Theriault's horses, photo by Janice Dickson

Theriault and his clients are among many in opposition of the Energy East pipeline.

Yesterday, while Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was at a press conference to talk about his book, Common Ground, he addressed a group of Energy East protestors, in Toronto.

“Take a minute to explain to people your position and then we’ll get back to this,” Trudeau told the group of protestors, during a Q&A about his memoir.

“Canada will fail every climate target if it goes through. As a young person, I want you, Mr. Trudeau, to call for a full climate review of Energy East,” said the protestor who was holding a large sign. 

Trudeau encouraged the crowd to applaud the protester, and they did.

Theriault said many feel that there is no way to stop TransCanada from pursuing its plans, but he is going to try—by urging people to protest, debate and to stand up for what they believe in.

“For TransCanada to just come and do whatever they want, that’s affecting my property, my land and my horses. I don’t think that’s fair at all,” said Theriault. 

Do you live along the pipeline route? If you want to share your story, email me: [email protected] 

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