Canada’s economic viability has long been premised on the extraction and exportation of raw natural resources. Beginning with the fur trade and expanding to the diverse mineral resources that exist across the country, their ability to be a sustainable economic venture has long been a point of contentious debate. Despite this, corporations such as Enbridge are seeking ways to expand Canada’s dependence on exporting its natural resources.
Line 9 is a 34 year old pipeline, which currently transports imported crude from Montreal to refineries in Sarnia. Transporting traditional crude oil, it also allows Canada to export its resources to neighbouring provinces, and to states south of the border such as Maine. Enbridge seeks to make changes to the current pipeline, essentially reversing its flow so that it can carry heavy crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands.
Strong opposition exists to the proposed changes to line 9. Environmentalists argue that the expansion poses a dangerous threat to communities situated along the pipeline, as an estimated 9.1 million are situated very closely to the line. This includes first nations communities as well as Kingston.
Much of the opposition to Enbridge’s expansion of the line is rooted in past environmental catastrophes. In 2010, an Enbridge Pipeline in Michigan carrying heavy crude burst, causing a catastrophic oil spill in the Kalamazoo River.
On July 2nd, members of Decline9 held an information session at the Sleepless Goat that regarded the most recent blockade undertaken by Decline9 supporters. During the meeting, members discussed the Kalamazoo catastrophe and its relation to Line 9 being a repeat of the situation. Part of the discussion led to a deconstruction of how Canadian financial banks such as CIBC and TD, play an important role in funding Line 9. As a result, blockades in areas of expansion have been the primary way in which opposition supporters seek to stall the expansion. Economic insurgency is also being deployed as a means to further prevent the expansion of the line.
Ultimately, Line 9 is of considerable interest to residents in Kingston. As the line cuts through the Cataraqui River, the Rideau Canal, and parcels of land safeguarded by Cataraqui Regional Conservation Authority a local burst in the line could have tragic consequences similar to what happened in Michigan.