Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Award Winning UBC Prof Blocks Freeway Construction

Gateway Work Shut Down for Four Hours


On Monday December 7th UBC Professor Patrick Condon joined a group of climate activists who occupied a freeway construction site in Vancouver.  Work was stopped at the site for four hours. The protest coincided with the first day of climate change talks in Copenhagen, where Canada received yet another Fossil of the Day Award. The notorious award goes to the country doing the most to obstruct progress at UN climate negotiations.

This action was directed at the controversial Gateway Program, a massive freeway-expansion project that would increase greenhouse gases (GHGs) in a sector that is already the largest source of emissions in our region. The province's own assessment estimates the increase at over 160,000 tonnes per year. If the billions being spent on Gateway were re-directed to an emissions reduction program including cost-effective public transit, emissions could be reduced by millions of tonnes per year.

The Gateway Program is linked to a larger Pacific Gateway strategy that includes pipelines to the Alberta Tar Sands, Canada's largest point source of greenhouse gas emissions. Cars and trucks in BC already burn fuel made from tar sands bitumen, and the proportion of this dirty tar sands fuel in our gas tanks is increasing.

“As a citizen it enrages me to see Canada drag its feet on climate change through support of the world’s dirtiest fuel: tar sands,” said Patrick Condon. “As a resident it breaks my heart to see the Vancouver region abandon livability and sustainability through the construction of more freeways. And as a parent, I can’t look my kids and grandkids in the face if I don't do whatever I can to stop this madness.”

Approximately fifty people were involved in the protest.  At one point construction workers moved a piece of equipment on to the site.  Police physically removed protesters blocking the equipment but there were no arrests. One protester was thrown to the ground and another was hit in the throat by police.After parking the equipment workers left and did not resume work until after the protesters were gone from the site.

Patrick Condon is a senior researcher at the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability and has held the position of the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments.   
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For more info on this event and the Gateway Project see http://www.gatewaysucks.org
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