Tim Takaro first ascended the Brunette River Conservation Area’s trees on August 3, 2020. He and other demonstrators are still in the treetops more than a year later. Takaro, a retired physician and SFU professor, is one of the leaders of StopTMX, the group behind the lengthy treetop protest against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
“We must halt the construction of new fossil energy infrastructure or we will face far more death and damage than we have already seen,” Takaro added. The existing 1,150-kilometer pipeline will be twinned, boosting the amount of petroleum transported from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.
Several parties, including Indigenous activists, environmental organizations, and municipal governments, have expressed opposition to the proposal. StopTMX has taken its fight to the trees, while these other organizations have taken it to the streets and courts.
They always have at least one person occupying each of their two treehouses, which they normally swap off every two to five days, with a team of roughly 40 employees. The group is made up of a diverse spectrum of activists, ranging from youngsters to senior citizens.
A pulley system transports food, water, and other supplies to the main tree home. Protesters can use climbing equipment to climb up and down the treehouses, and they can stroll between them via a ladder path that connects the two. Maureen Curran became active in the treetop protest last summer and has remained so ever since. She was recently named the federal Green Party’s Burnaby-South candidate, and she will face off against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in the 2018 election.
Despite the noise from adjacent railroad tracks and highway activity, Curran characterized her time in the treetops as “very serene.”
Takaro considers the demonstration to be a success thus far. Following two on-site inspections in April, an Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officer ordered Trans Mountain to suspend development in the region until August 15 due to bird nesting season.
Takaro stated that the enforcement officer was present to see a tree with a hummingbird nest being cut down.