Houston RCMP is presently investigating an incident where individuals allegedly engaged in a violent confrontation with employees of Coastal GasLink, and with attending police officers along the Morice River Forest Service Road near Houston, BC.
On Thursday, February 17, 2022, shortly after midnight, Houston RCMP was called to the Marten Forest Service Road (FSR) after Coastal Gas Link (CGL) security reported acts of violence at their work site.
It was reported approximately 20 people, some armed with axes, were attacking security guards and smashing their vehicle windows. It was initially reported that some CGL employees were trapped, but all had managed to safely leave the area.
Upon police attendance at the 41 km mark, the roadway had been blocked with downed trees, tar covered stumps, wire, boards with spikes in them, and fires had been lit throughout the debris. As police worked their way through the debris and traps, several people threw smoke bombs and fire lit sticks at the police, injuring one officer.
At the 43 km mark, an old school bus blocked the road. No one was located in this area and with the assistance of CGL, the bus was cleared from the road and police continued on.
When police arrived at the drill pad at the 63 km mark, they found significant damage had been done to heavy machinery, fencing, and portable buildings. Police did not encounter any further blockades or protesters as they made their way to the drill pad nor did they locate anyone at the site. The cost of damage done is extensive as seen in the photos.
This is a very troubling escalation in violent criminal activity that could have resulted in serious injury or death. This was a calculated and organized violent attack that left its victims shaken and a multimillion dollar path of destruction, says Chief Superintendent Warren Brown, North District Commander.
While we respect everyone’s right to peacefully protest in Canada, we cannot tolerate this type of extreme violence and intimidation. Our investigators will work tirelessly to identify the culprits and hold them accountable for their actions.
The RCMP is appealing to the public for assistance about the incident. This type of criminal activity and level of violence impacts the entire community, so we are urging anyone that has any information about the individuals involved to contact the Houston RCMP at 250-845-2204.
Coastal GasLink, meantime, has issued a media release calling the incident a highly planned and dangerous unprovoked assault against its employees.
The statement reads:
During the early morning hours of Feb. 17, 2022, approximately 20 masked and violent attackers wearing camouflage surrounded and attacked Coastal GasLink workers in a highly planned and dangerous unprovoked assault. It happened near the Morice River drill pad site off the Marten Forest Service Road — the location of a former blockade and opposition camp last year that lasted 59 days. This coordinated and criminal attack from multiple directions threatened the lives of several workers. In one of the most concerning acts, an attempt was made to set a vehicle on fire while workers were inside. The attackers also wielded axes, swinging them at vehicles and through a truck's window. Flare guns were also fired at workers. Workers fled the site for their own safety and remain shaken by this violent incident. Fortunately, there were no physical injuries to Coastal GasLink workers.
The attackers used grinders to cut locks on a permitted gate to the active construction site and continued to vandalize and attack heavy equipment and construction trailers on-site, causing millions of dollars in damage to Coastal GasLink contractor equipment and property. Equipment hydraulic and fuel lines were also cut, causing dangerous leaks. Damage and environmental impacts are still being assessed. We are working to contain and clean up the environmental damage caused by the attackers. We also understand the attackers felled trees, placed tire spikes and lit fires on roads in an effort to impede access to the remote worksite.
The protection of people and the environment is paramount and we are taking a number of actions to address this incident. RCMP were called to the scene, and we understand a criminal investigation is underway. On behalf of our workers, we encourage a full investigation of those involved in the violent attack. The company is also asking for anyone with information about the attack to contact the RCMP.
As this situation evolves, we remain in close contact with our prime contractor and workforce. Our work is lawful, authorized, fully permitted and has the unprecedented support of local and Indigenous communities and agreements in place with all 20 elected First Nation councils across the 670 km route. Coastal GasLink is almost 60 per cent complete.