VICTORIA, B.C. – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. (ICBA) is working with Crime Stoppers to offer a $100,000 reward for information on the attack on a Coastal GasLink camp and its workers last February.
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation has produced no tangible leads so far, according to a news release.
“Every morning in British Columbia, about a quarter-million people get up and go to work on a job site, building projects across the province,” said ICBA’S vice president of communications Jordan Bateman in an interview with the Journal of Commerce.
“They have a right, first and foremost, to a safe working environment,” he said.
Just after midnight on February 17, an attack was carried out against the GasLink camp near Houston, B.C.
“It was reported approximately 20 people, some armed with axes, were attacking security guards and smashing their vehicle windows,” writes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a news release.
What the police found at the scene was a road littered with blockades in the forms of downed trees, burning debris and boards with spikes. As police worked to travel through the hazards, they were targeted with smoke bombs and fire lit sticks, according to the release.
Damage was extensive and the police posted photos of heavy industry machinery that had been flipped and even crushed.
Video footage from the attack shows several masked individuals armed with axes approaching an unidentified person inside a vehicle and one of the assailants swinging something at the vehicle’s door.
After months of investigation, the police report “there has not been any new tips or information received in recent months that would positively identify the people responsible for these violent acts.”
Bateman said the ICBA felt compelled to assist.
“Here we are 10 months later and still no arrests, no charges. So, our belief is that if we can help the RCMP get this across the line, we owe it to construction workers to do so.”
President of the ICBA, Chris Gardner, wrote that the lack of progress in the investigation is “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,” Gardner wrote in an op-ed on the announcement.
Bateman spoke to the frustrations of the attack jeopardizing lives in an industry that prioritizes safety.
“Any construction site is all about safety – safety equipment, safety signage, safety routines, protocols, briefings – you do all of that to keep workers safe. So, when an external thing happens, like this disgusting attack on construction pipeline workers, it shakes the confidence of workers across the province,” said Bateman.
Pipeline projects can often be causes of societal tension, but Bateman said such issues should never be taken out on workers.
“Those are real people who were just going to work. They didn’t have any political interest in the project. They didn’t make the decision to build the pipeline. They just went to work and they deserve to be treated properly and with respect and they deserve a safe workspace,” he said.
Bateman said he has been happy with the public stance on the attack.
“We were very pleased to see that across the political spectrum there’s been condemnation for the behaviour of these people,” he said.
Gardner wrote that the importance and value of construction workers cannot be undermined by a lack of consequences for the attack.
“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 and hard work should be upheld as an example of Canadian ingenuity and exceptionalism,” Gardner writes.
“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.”
Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, encouraged people to reach out to the organization.
“Please be assured, Crime Stoppers never collects personal information. In the decades we’ve been in operation, we have never identified any of our tipsters. They are never contacted again by us or the police or have to testify in court,” Annis said in the release.
If you have information to share regarding the attack, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, go to Solvecrime.ca or call the Houston RCMP at 250-845-2204.
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