A freeze frame from Enbridge's pipeline route animation

According to Enbridge, BC’s Rugged Wilderness is a Putting Green Between Two Molehills


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:


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

16 thoughts on “According to Enbridge, BC’s Rugged Wilderness is a Putting Green Between Two Molehills

  1. See Conservative gov’t decimate the federal Fisheries Act tomorrow – March 29, Budget Day – as they announce their gutting of the nearly 40-year-old federal fish habitat protection act. All…to help “approve” Gateway. They’re DEAD WRONG if they think that’s going to get this thing built. British Columbians WILL stop this project.

  2. Even though we no longer allow public hangings, any politician, oil exec, or strong proponent of this Kitimaat project should sign their life away so that WHEN the oil closes down our coast they will dedicate at least a year of their time and effort with no compensation (maybe even a lifetime) to try to restore the coast to its present nature. Why gamble that, leave it alone and all will be fine. If this were the old wild west we would just blast the bastards into boot hill.

  3. Alberta and the Federal Government will benefit financially from this pipeline and BC will carry the risk of destroyed ecosystems and the resulting loss of jobs. If you really want money and jobs then refine it in Alberta and keep it out of our mountains and away from our coast and sell your gas in Canada instead of sending it to China. We want to be able to drink our water, swim in clean oceans, and protect our wildlife and ecosystems. Enbridge only have their on interests in mind and their company has a horrible spill record. Sorry, NOT interested.

  4. enter your message here…I am concerned about the contamination caused even after the pipe line is no longer useful! Canada has a lousy record in leaving everything “as is” once they are done with mining etc. Some of it takes place in other countries and we will never hear of it.
    I am glad people are speaking up – finally!
    If the pipe line goes ahead, we people have to make sure that our Government will impose the most conservative safety guidelines possible and have plans in place, should something “go wrong”

  5. Nothing a civil war won’t solve. Most Canadians will happily die before Sinopec profits. What real Canadian can sleep at night fuelling a communist china? Fat pigs of Harpers ilk are getting rich for slanging our resources to china. Cancer can’t come quick enough.

  6. I think we learned about how much the oil industry cares about spills and safety measures with the Gulf Oil disaster.
    Their “safety” measures and disaster responses are ancient, ineffective and downright laughable…if it wasn’t so serious.
    They simply do not care. It is a risk they do not mind taking because in the greater scheme of things…it does not affect them other than the cost of after-the-fact spin doctoring.

  7. To not have a spill assesment and susbsequent action plan in place when so much is at stake is in istelf representative of the lack of care and due dilligence Enbridge has exuded throughout the planning of this endevor. When there is no due dilligence in the planning stages, it clearly indicates what we can expect when a spill does occur. Considering the magnitude of impending environmental and cultural impact, prudence would see a pipeline built to the very best of mankinds ability. In my opinion, if such was done, we could very well ship oil “spill-free” if the people building the delivery system bothered to spend the money and make the effort required of that specific task. Sadly, being repsonsible and dilligent in ones business affairs is not a trait Enbridge and its employee’s deem necessary. Are these people really Canadian, or are they foreigners? It seems the latter description fits more accurately.

  8. Believe me their vidieo isn’t aimed at anyone that lives or has been to B.C.it’s all the idiots that don’t have a clue,or don’t give a shit that this bullshit is aimed at….and there seems to be lots of those

  9. What a nice peaceful flyby. Makes you want to pack up a picnic and go sit in a local meadow and drink wine while watching the birds. Idiots!

  10. enter your message here…With regards to their mock-up of the pipeline route it appears to me they think us utterly stupid—or it is really is a “MOCK”-up.They may think they have this hands down and are basically laughing at us.As far as not having any plans for spill clean up until after it meets approval,I would like to invite all the enbridge gangsters over to my house for cocktails—and after they have ingested them I will be happy to share the ingredients.
    Steve Hetherington Lac La Hache B>C.

  11. So the answer then is they do not have a spill plan in place.
    This is the typical reactionary thinking process as compared to the preventative measures type of mindset.

    I find it interesting that lawyers were chosen to present this to a group of interested people.

    I expect that any of the regular Enbridge employees who normally present these things were not schooled enough in the mastery of deflection…..

    Love the mock up from Enbridge. The way in which the terrain, rivers and vegetation are presented would make Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the rest of Jim Henson’s creations proud.

  12. I was at the UBC Marine Mammal Symposium a few months back. Lawyers representing the pipeline proposal were there to answer any questions…
    I asked what the spill clean-up strategy was. They answered that they will not do a spill assessment plan until they have approval to put the pipeline in.
    This demonstrates how these people work.

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