When a Greater Victoria teenager’s petition against the Coastal GasLink pipeline got to 200 signatures last month, his aunt congratulated him on its progress. He responded by telling her he hoped it would reach 800 signatures by March.
A week later, the petition was at 16,000.
“It totally blew me away,” said Troy Patterson.
The Claremont Secondary School student’s petition is now at over 23,000 signatures. The petition calls for construction of the pipeline to stop as Patterson is concerned about its potential impact on the Great Bear Rainforest and marine life.
“This is one of the last wild places in B.C.,” Patterson said. “I thought ‘What can I do as a youth?’ and I thought a petition would be the best way to go about that.”
Patterson first got involved in environmentalism about a year ago, after he visited an old-growth forest. That interest in conservation has continued to grow as he’s currently taking a course in school that revolves around the environment.
The 15-year-old said environmental issues have fallen out of the spotlight during the pandemic.
“I needed to bring this back up so people can remember and start to make a change.”
Once completed, TC Energy’s 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline will transport natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to the LNG Canada export facility in Kitimat, where the company says it’ll be converted into liquefied natural gas and shipped to global markets.
One of Patterson’s main concerns is the impact on wildlife if LNG carrier-ship traffic increases in the province’s northern waters. One species he’s worried about is the endangered fin whale – which the federal government says can be found in some deep channels between islands along British Columbia’s northern coast.
“The marine ecosystem is much at stake here,” Patterson said. “The tankers have to traverse some quite sharp turns and passages.”
Patterson has reached out to Premier John Horgan, Environment Minister George Heyman, Forests Minister Katrine Conroy and several local MLAs to raise his concerns.
“I think in B.C. we’re quite connected to the environment with it all right in our backyard,” Patterson said. “I would like to see the B.C. government recognize it too and push to a more sustainable future.”
The province’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said the pipeline’s construction and operation “will not involve any effects to marine life or marine traffic.”
“Nor does the pipeline cross the Great Bear Rainforest and, as such, these effects were not assessed for the Coastal GasLink project,” an email from the ministry said.
”Regarding the LNG Canada project, impacts on marine shipping and marine life were considered through the environmental assessment certificate process.”
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