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Crown counsel launches proceedings against pipeline blockaders

The B.C. Prosecution Service has filed notices of criminal contempt against 15 people for allegedly violating injunction against interfering with Coastal GasLink's construction activities.
Coastal GasLink pipes
(via Coastal GasLink)

The B.C. Prosecution Service is pursuing criminal contempt charges against 15 people alleged to have a court order prohibiting them from interfering with Coastal GasLink's pipeline construction activities.

Notices of application were filed at the Prince George courthouse on Wednesday. 

They were among 27 arrested over six days between September and November 2021 when RCMP moved in on blockades along the Morice Forest Service Road south of Houston.

They are alleged to have violated a B.C. Supreme Court injunction issued in December 2019.

Currently under construction, the Coastal GasLink pipeline is to stretch 670 kilometres from gas fields near Dawson Creek to a massive processing and export facility currently under construction in Kitimat. 

The pipeline and LNG Canada processing facility have sparked widespread opposition among environmentalists, who say the project siphons investment away from renewable energy and will make it impossible for B.C. to reach its emission reduction targets.

According to a statement read into the court record, the BCPS plans to provide initial disclosure and positions on sentencing in about four weeks time.

"Though that document will provide expected positions based on the timing of the plea, the nature of the conduct, any antecedents and other relevant factors, Crown Counsel will deal with each case on an individualized basis," BCPS said in the statement. 

Possible disposition include alternative measures, discharges, community work hours, fines or prison.

Ten other files were adjourned for the time being while the BCPS reviews whether the terms of the injunction were properly communicated to them.

Two will not be prosecuted, because there was "insufficient evidence of their awareness" of the terms of the injunction, the BCPS said.

"Because of the way matters arose, police did not have a copy of the injunction at the time of the arrests and were only able to paraphrase it orally after the protesters had been arrested," BCPS said.

The matter was adjourned to July 7.

- with files from Arthur Williams


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