Protest camp on Lelu Island in northwestern B.C.

Update: The port instructs that construction on Lelu Island protest camp to stop

Protesters encamped on Lelu Island were asked to stop construction activities by the Port of Prince Rupert.

Protesters encamped on Lelu Island were asked to stop construction activities by the Port of Prince Rupert (PRPA), a release noted Monday, April 11.

The site is where Pacific NorthWest LNG has proposed a liquefied natural gas export terminal, which is still under review by the federal government. The protesters have occupied an area within the port’s administrative jurisdiction since the fall of 2015.

The port hand delivered and emailed the letter to Ken Lawson, Donald Wesley and the “Occupiers of Lelu Island” after consulting with the leadership of local Coast Tsimshian communities.

“We respect the right of any individual or group to express their opinions concerning port development if it is done in a safe and peaceful manner,” said Don Krusel, PRPA president. “However, raising makeshift structures does not meet that definition and has not been authorized.”

The port is the administrator of federal crown land on Lelu Island and it has not allowed occupation or construction on the area by the individuals who have set up the site as a protest camp.

“The port has reserved the right to require that existing structures be dismantled and all contents be removed from the island,” as stated in the port’s press release on Monday, April 11.

In the letter itself, the PRPA states that it respects the right to protest peacefully but it does not condone the construction of structures on Lelu Island without written approval. “We may seek a court order requiring the removal, and you may be liable to pay cost of any such proceeding,” as stated in the letter addressed to the occupiers.

In conclusion, the PRPA would meet with individuals on Lelu Island to discuss the issue further and its timeline for the removal of structures that were built recently.

The response from Donnie Wesley and Ken Lawson was directed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an open letter. The letter asks many questions, particularly if the federal government supports the port’s actions to ask them to stop construction activities. Wesley and Lawson said they would like “clear and unequivocal answers” to their questions before responding to the PRPA.

They note in the letter that the Lax Kw’alaams Band Council provided $100,000 in funds toward the construction of the camp on Lelu Island, and that there was strong opposition to the Pacific NorthWest LNG brought up at a community meeting on Saturday, April 9 with members of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nations.

“We respectfully request that you order the Port Authority to withdraw its letter immediately,” as stated in the letter. It concludes with plans to build a “cultural institution” on Lelu Island and invites the government to contribute funds to the centre.