By Ellen Cools
Since Saturday, Feb. 8, protestors supporting the Wet’suwet’en Nation in their effort to stop the construction of a natural gas pipeline in their traditional territories have blocked the main railway line between Prince Rupert and Prince George, B.C., near New Hazelton, B.C.
According to CBC News, the protests have kept 33 trains from delivering their cargo. Read the full article here.
In response to the protests, Gordon Murray, executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, has written a letter to several ministers – including Minister of Transport Marc Garneau; Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains; Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan; Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng; and Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller – to voice WPAC’s concerns about the protest’s impact on the wood pellet industry and ask that the government take action to remove the blockade.
The letter follows below:
I am quite sure that you are aware that since 3:00 p.m. [on Feb. 8, 2020], First Nations have blocked the main CN railway line New Hazelton British Columbia. It is absolutely vital that the government take all necessary steps to remove this blockade and get rail traffic moving to Prince Rupert. Please understand the urgency of resolving this immediately.
The Wood Pellet Association of Canada represents Canadian wood pellet producers. Over 90 per cent of our production is exported to Europe and Asia. British Columbia accounts for about 80 per cent of Canada’s wood pellet exports and of that, approximately 50 per cent is shipped through the Port of Prince Rupert.
We operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Our plants have very little onsite storage, so a rail stoppage will cause our plants to close down within a day or two, putting hundreds out of work. Moreover, our customers are electrical utilities in Europe and Asia that rely on Canadian wood pellets for fuel. Any interruption in our ability to supply our customers will cause the Canadian industry irreparable harm. Our reputation is already suffering as a result of the recent CN rail strike. We simply cannot absorb any more disruptions.
We implore you to urgently take all necessary steps to remove this blockade immediately.
Gordon Murray, RPF, CPA, CMA
Wood Pellet Association of Canada