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One Cowichan backs provincial anti-pipeline blitz

Cowichan residents pose at the Cowichan Station HUB to send a message about the proposed Enbridge pipeline in northern B.C. They are committed to joining a petition drive aimed at forcing a referendum on the issue. - Paul Fletcher
Cowichan residents pose at the Cowichan Station HUB to send a message about the proposed Enbridge pipeline in northern B.C. They are committed to joining a petition drive aimed at forcing a referendum on the issue.
— image credit: Paul Fletcher

We’re in!”

That was One Cowichan’s simple message, shaped by people’s bodies, then photographed and sent Saturday to oil giant Enbridge.

Their two-word note was a heads-up from locals ready to petition and force a referendum on a B.C. permit for the oil firm’s planned pipeline to a proposed supertanker shipment port at Kitimat.

The legal petitioning process — copying B.C. residents’ successful anti-HST drive several years ago — was supported at Saturday’s Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Coast event at Cowichan Station’s HUB centre.

Cowichanians feared tanker ruptures and future climate-change spikes from the project.

“The stakes are higher than anything we’ve ever seen,” said petitioner Sonia Furstenau.

Petition timing dovetails with Ottawa’s looming decision, by June’s end, about allowing Enbridge’s pipeline.

Matt Price of One Cowichan said his environmental group now has 250 citizens ready to gain 6,000 names on petitions in each of the Cowichan Valley, and Nanaimo-North Cowichan ridings.

Petition names are needed from 10% of registered voters in each of B.C.’s 85 ridings to essentially force a provincial vote on Enbridge’s pipeline carrying raw materials from Alberta’s controversial oil sands, explained Price.

If the feds OK the pipeline, there will still be dozens of provincial permits needed to construct it, One Cowichan’s website states.

Permitting processes could be subject to B.C.’s unique initiative and recall legislation that allows citizens to write and propose laws, it says.

“We hope Premier Christie Clark stands strong and doesn’t cave (to Ottawa),” said Price.

Victoria-based Dogwood Initiative and other groups are organizing in ridings across B.C. to stage the citizens’ petition initiative, including One Cowichan.

“They’re up to 70-odd teams B.C.” said Price. “They’re getting toward critical mass.”

The petition would basically ask signatories a yes-or-no question about Enbridge’s pipeline.

To Furstenau, the drive strengthens communities toward busting climate change and pollution.

“These are crimes against people in the future too.

“One Cowichan is doing a great job developing community leaders and togetherness. It’s a great example of democracy at work,” she said. “I can’t say how far I’ll go, but I won’t stop.”

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