Why I am committed to stopping new pipelines and climate change

photo: Miles Ritter

My son graduated from Grade 7 today. I cried a little during the ceremony in the gym, but mostly I felt grateful for the amazing life my family enjoys here in coastal BC. We hear seabirds, smell the ocean, taste the salt air, and once in awhile we even get to see orcas passing through our local waters. It’s a great place to raise a family.

But when I got back to my desk after the graduation ceremony I realized something shocking: we have been fighting the Trans Mountain pipeline the entire time my son has been in elementary school.

I am both appalled by, and proud of, this realization. It is ludicrous that in 2019 we still have to fight fossil fuel projects to protect our coast and the climate, when we all know that we must start the transition to renewable sources of energy NOW if our planet is to have a chance. Our government seems to see things differently though, which is why I love the analogy someone shared: “Building a pipeline is like buying a Blockbuster franchise in the age of Netflix”.

But I am also proud that, thanks to GSA supporters and funders like the one I was writing to when I had my realization, seven years after we first vowed to stop the pipeline expansion, not only has Kinder Morgan walked away from the project but the additional 590,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day that would be carried by the expanded pipeline remain in the ground for the time being. This is a win.

Georgia Strait Alliance and our allies have worked tirelessly over these years to delay and block the ill-advised Trans Mountain project. We have intervened in not one but two National Energy Board review processes, becoming recognized experts on the inadequacies of marine oil spill preparedness and response. We’ve supported First Nations legal challenges including the Pull Together campaign and other efforts by indigenous communities to protect their territories. And we’ve given individuals many opportunities to take action, expressing their concerns and hopes for the future through letter-writing campaigns, petitions, and rallies.

As we all know, last week our federal government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline for the second time. But I am here to tell you that IT IS NOT OVER.

photo: Peg Hunter

My kids are part of a new generation growing up with the regular occurrences of smoke from wildfires, summer droughts and more intense storms. They are also part of the generation which is holding their adults to account through Global Climate Strikes, pushing us all to demand and get immediate climate action. They see clearly what our elected leaders do not: climate action doesn’t come from building pipelines.

We need to keep fighting for our children to get the climate action needed so their future will be brighter. Please join with me in rededicating yourself to taking local action to fight climate change. By stopping the Trans Mountain pipeline, we will be keeping up to 125 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year out of our atmosphere, double BC’s entire annual CO2 emissions. GSA is also working with municipalities and communities along the coast to help them demand accountability from the fossil fuel companies that are responsible for, and profiting from, the products that are driving climate change.

Youth in our community have the motivation (their future) and the passion and energy needed to grow the fight to stop climate change. And in our 30 years, GSA has learned a thing or two about winning campaigns and protecting the environment. Let’s work together so that five years from now, when my son graduates from high school, the construction of new pipelines has gone the way of video store openings, and our kids are looking forward to a sustainable future fueled by clean energy. A future in which the ocean is still swimmable, the skies are clear, and salmon and orcas are in abundance.

Cheryl Onciul
Development Manager


We need your help to raise up the voices of young people calling for climate action and the end to new pipelines


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