Last week I was privileged to host an evening at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival which featured four recent documentary films dealing with Enbridge’s proposed twin Northern Gateway pipelines and the Alberta Tar Sands that would feed it.
Close to 400 people turned out to North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre to take in the show, which included adventure filmmaker Frank Wolf’s entertaining and insightful On the Line. The film documents Wolf’s arduous 50-plus day trek with his pal Todd McGowan along the entire proposed Northern Gateway route and first portion of the associated supertanker route from Kitimat – the pipeline’s terminus. The rugged wilderness of Wolf’s film is a starkly different landscape than the one Enbridge portrays in its idyllic promotional video depicting the pipeline right-of-way (see video below).
Wolf and McGowan travelled by bicycle, raft, kayak and on foot, using the company’s own GPS mapping data to plot their course. While the pipeline would stretch 1,177 km from Bruderheim, Alberta, to BC’s Central Coast, the pair journeyed 2,400 km in total. The disparity in distances gives you a sense of the steep mountain terrain the pipeline must traverse, over two major alpine ranges – the Rockies and Coast Mountains. So treacherous is the path through the latter peaks that the company proposes to drill two 6 km tunnels through the Clore River and Hoult Creek valleys near Kitimat.
One scene in particular from Wolf’s film illustrates how difficult it would be to reach – let alone clean up – a spill along the pipeline route, as he and McGowan are trapped atop a mountain for several days due to extreme weather. This after hacking their way through the thick bush of the Rockies.
With these images of BC’s dense, raw, unforgiving wilderness fresh in my mind after seeing On the Line, a colleague recently forwarded me Enbridge’s take on the same pipeline corridor. The company’s “route animation” depicts an innocuous pipe running through a handful of architectural model shrubberies scattered atop a flat, perfectly manicured putting green.
Whereas the real pipeline would cross 1,000 rivers and streams, there are but a handful of water bodies in this cartoon. And, apparently, Alberta oilmen don’t realize that in BC we have these things called “trees” – some of them pretty darned big at that.
In Enbridge’s animation, the mighty Rockies and Coast Mountains have been reduced to mere molehills. The treacherous 150-plus km wind tunnel that is the Douglas Channel is but a wide, calm canal, ideal for a riverboat cruise.
Clearly, in Enbridge’s eyes, we have nothing to worry about from their Tar Sands pipelines or supertankers on one of the world’s most treacherous coastlines. Never mind the rugged wilderness of Frank Wolf’s film or the very real geological concerns recently raised in these pages by eminent fish scientist Dr. Gordon Hartman – the Enbridge twin pipelines are but a walk in the park. See for yourself below…
Frank Wolf’s On the Line trailer: