Set foot on a construction site and it’s impossible to miss the commitment to safety. There are safety orientations, toolbox talks, specialized training, safety officers and signs everywhere.
Safety gear and protective clothing like hard hats, boots, high visibility vests, gloves, and goggles are required before the work starts.
The safety of people always comes first and always trumps every other consideration on every construction job site. British Columbia’s construction employers, and the men and women who wake up and go to a job site every day to build our communities and support their families, are committed to ensuring everyone gets home safe at the end of every day.
That’s why the February 2022 attack on construction workers building the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline near Houston is deeply troubling. RCMP say video footage shows “20 or so masked individuals” attacking nine security guards and construction workers, heavy equipment, and outbuildings, “in a very aggressive and calculated method.” The violent attack caused millions of dollars in damage and was traumatic not only for those working on site that night, but also for their colleagues, families, and friends.
This was carefully planned and premeditated. According to Coastal GasLink, lights and video surveillance at the site were disabled. Heavy equipment was used to batter other equipment and shred trailers. A school bus was used to block access to the site. The Morice River Service Road was blocked by felled trees, fires, and spikes.
“Our people were terrorized during this violent incident,” a CGL spokesperson said.
“Workers and their families should never have to endure the traumatizing events that unfolded in the early hours of Thursday, Feb. 17,” added Kevin Kohut, provincial director of CLAC, one of the unions representing workers on the project.
Despite near universal condemnation from elected officials, industry groups, labour unions, and other leaders, ten months later, no arrests have yet been made. No one has been held accountable.
That’s not acceptable. For the men and women working in construction, more must be done to send a message that their safety matters and that violence in the workplace and on job sites will not be tolerated.
That’s why the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association has partnered with Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers to offer a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and charge of those responsible for this violent and horrific attack.
It would be easy to just let this violence be forgotten, but there were real people, skilled professionals, whose lives were in danger simply for showing up at their place of work to support themselves and their families.
In a post on the CGL website, one of the security professionals who was working that night called the event “terrifying. To have somebody come at you with an axe is, you know, a whole other level of… fear.”
He described what it was like to experience axe- and fire-wielding assailants smash his truck windows.
“You know, to have this terrifying event where people are trying to come at you with an axe, and throwing axes through your window and trying to start a truck on fire, well… we just want to do our job, and work and go home to our families...”
It's hard not to feel the fear in these comments. Our hope is this substantial reward provides the impetus for someone to step forward and provide information that will help ensure that those who perpetrated this heinous act of violence and terror are held accountable.
This LNG pipeline project is a nation-building undertaking being constructed to the highest environmental standards that will deliver the cleanest LNG on the planet. It will transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to the LNG Canada plant in Kitimat – the largest private investment in our country’s history – to be processed and shipped to markets around the world. CGL has signed agreements with all 20 of the First Nations along the pipeline route and the project has been approved and permitted by both the federal and provincial governments.
The people working on this pipeline are highly trained and skilled and are building an incredible national legacy of which we can all be proud – their expertise, ingenuity and hard work should be upheld as an example of Canadian ingenuity and exceptionalism. They deserve no less than a full investigation and the assurance that the perpetrators of this attack will be held accountable and brought to justice.
If you have information that may be helpful in this case, please contact Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or visit www.solvecrime.ca.
Chris Gardner is the president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.