City of Burnaby issues eviction notice to pipeline protest camp

Since November 2017, Camp Cloud has grown from a single trailer to an elaborate encampment of tents and wood structures. Image: Burnaby NOW

The City of Burnaby has issued an eviction notice to the Camp Cloud protest camp outside the Trans Mountain pipeline tank farm on Burnaby Mountain.

The notice is ordering campers to immediately take down the entire camp, including trailers, wooden structures, a shower and a two-storey carver’s cabin currently under construction, according to city manager Lambert Chu.

Chu said the city has been unsuccessful in bringing the camp under compliance, as it continues to violate multiple bylaws. He said previous requests for campers to snuff out a ceremonial fire have become more urgent now that there is a fire ban in place.

He said the city is seeking legal advice to determine what it can do to enforce the eviction notice. Chu said he is unsure if and when the Burnaby RCMP would be called in to forcibly remove protesters.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled that both Camp Cloud and the nearby Watch House have the right to remain on Burnaby Mountain.

Earlier this week, Mayor Derek Corrigan told Burnaby Now that the city was readying to crack down on Camp Cloud.

“This has gone far beyond simply peaceful protest to a point where people in the community, justifiably, have had enough,” he said.

Police were on scene when bylaw officers gave the notice to campers on Wednesday morning simply to keep the peace, according to an RCMP spokesperson.

Since November 2017, Camp Cloud has grown from a single trailer to an elaborate encampment of tents and wood structures providing homes, a kitchen, a shower and a safe space for opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

And the encampment continues to grow, as protesters erect a two-storey carver’s cabin on the side of Shellmont Street near the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s tank farm on Burnaby Mountain.

In May, residents of the surrounding Forest Grove neighbourhood presented a petition at a council meeting asking the city to remove the camp. The 175 signatories complained about Camp Cloud’s effect on traffic and potential safety hazards.

In recent weeks, several locals have written to the NOW complaining about the camp, including Carolyn Carpenter and Duke Shoebotham. The couple said they fear the camp will remain “long after the current political problems are solved.”

“This encampment certainly has the appearance of a homeless camp,” the couple wrote. “We want action taken to make our community safe and beautiful once again.”

Johnny Lee, a Nehiyaw Cree man from Edmonton, said he is leading the construction of the carver’s cabin, which will allow a First Nations artist to create a totem pole.

The building will include a loft and a deck on its roof, which will act as a stage for concerts and may include a screen for movie nights and karaoke, Lee said.

He said discussions with representatives of the City of Burnaby who have visited the camp have been cordial, but he has flatly refused to comply with their requests.

“They give us trouble about a carver’s cabin because we don’t have a permit?” he asked. “We’ve got to pay the system for us to live our lives and build our own shelters and whatnot? No, I don’t think so.”

He also said the fire that burns continuously in the camp won’t be snuffed out, despite a fire department request.

“That sacred fire isn’t going out for nobody unless our matriarch says so,” Lee said.

Lee said most neighbourhood residents he has spoken to have been supportive, while others have hurled verbal abuse.

“I’m not particularly happy with them being here,” said Lee. “How many centuries of colonization and raping of the land and the oppression of the Indigenous people (has there been)? To those people, I say, ‘tough luck’”

Corrigan said the attitude at Camp Cloud stands in stark contrast to the Watch House a few hundred metres away. The cedar longhouse was built in the nearby woods in March under the leadership of Will George.

George said he complied when the city asked him to extinguish his own ceremonial fire and he is under strict orders from his Tslei-Waututh elders to hold his protest in a “peaceful way.”

George said he would not comment on the different approaches at the two camps.

“In no way will I show divide,” he said.

The Burnaby RCMP’s operations officer, Supt. Chuck McDonald, said there have been few calls to the Watch House, while there have been more incidents at Camp Cloud, including mischief and an assault on a police officer.

“I don’t know if I want to compare the two (camps),” he said. “I prefer that people draw their own conclusions about the difference between the two.“

— Burnaby NOW