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Activists targeting Prince Rupert Port Authority for anti-oil tanker rally

Prince Rupert activists will be joining others across the country on Nov. 16 to protest growth in the oil development and export industries.

Dubbed "Save Our Seafood Chowder – Defend Our Community", the outdoor rally scheduled to take place across from Atlin Terminal from noon to 1 p.m. is part of the nationwide Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities day of action. Luanne Roth, one of the event's organizers, said the hope is to make a major statement to the federal government.

"The idea is to show there are people all across Canada who oppose expanding energy projects. The tar sands, if they continued as they are would be harmful, but they want to expand it to double or even triple operations," she said, noting the concerns are both local and global.

"There is a bit of a theme in protecting our communities in terms of water quality and quality of life, but also protecting our climate. We need to look at where our priorities are and what our vision for that is."

Organizers chose Atlin Terminal as the location to send a message to the Prince Rupert Port Authority, who have acknowledged discussions have taken place with Nexen that would see oil arriving by rail to be exported from Prince Rupert.

"In Prince Rupert, our main concern is oil tankers and pollution of the water. The Prince Rupert Port Authority is planning to have oil tankers at the port, and we want to let them know we do not want tankers in Prince Rupert," said Roth.

Michael Gurney, manager of corporate communications for the Prince Rupert Port Authority, said the group encourages residents to express their opinions and become informed about the port’s operations.

“We are committed to understanding the concerns and priorities of the community, which is the reason we launched our recent community forum, established the community information line and opened the Port Interpretive Centre. We welcome the feedback and take it seriously. At the same time, we have a mandate to grow this` gateway to the benefit of communities and economies across the country,” he said, noting the port does have some common ground with those protesting oil industry expansion.

“The belief expressed by the organizers of the rally is one that the Prince Rupert Port Authority shares, which is when moving any commodity, safety and sustainability are key.”

Volunteers will be serving seafood chowder during the event “to remind people that fresh seafood is one of the things we love about Prince Rupert”, and Roth said she expects a strong turnout despite the craft fair and other events taking place around town that day.

“There has been a good response so far. I think it’s going to be really good,” she said.

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