11/05/2014 10:56 EST | Updated 01/05/2015 05:59 EST

Kinder Morgan lawsuit to stop Burnaby Mountain pipeline protesters gets underway

Anti-pipeline protesters are calling on the B.C. government for help, as Kinder Morgan heads to court starting today to stop demonstrators opposing its survey work on Burnaby Mountain.

The energy giant is in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Wednesday seeking an injunction to stop the protesters, and suing five people for close to $6 million for their part in opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline and terminal expansion.

Meanwhile, the protesters are trying to prevent Kinder Morgan from conducting survey work on the area's municipal park, Burnaby Mountain — the company's preferred route for the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Prof. Lynne Quarmby of Simon Fraser University believes Kinder Morgan is using the courts to try to intimidate people such as herself from speaking out.

She hopes the province will reinstate legislation that is designed to prevent so-called SLAPP suits — or strategic lawsuits against public participation.

"There is very much something that our provincial government could do," said Quarmby.

"We used to have anti-SLAPP legislation in British Columbia but we don't have that anymore. It's gone and that's why I'm in trouble, I think."

The protests last week saw a teenager chain himself under a Kinder Morgan worker's vehicle, while other angry demonstrators stopped crews from conducting pipeline survey work at a nearby proposed bore hole, confronting a Trans Mountain survey crew, yelling "go back to Texas."

The pipeline expansion would almost triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Alberta and the B.C. coast to about 900,000 barrels of crude a day.

Speaking last week, Trans Mountain lawyer Bill Kaplan says protesters knew this would happen.

"They were aware the reaction of Trans Mountain would be to seek injunctive proceedings," he said.

City of Burnaby appeals Energy Board decision

The protests on Burnaby Mountain followed an announcement by the City of Burnaby, in which it said that it plans to appeal a National Energy Board (NEB) decision granting the energy giant access to the municipal conservation area.

Burnaby and Kinder Morgan have been locked in battle over the $5.4-billion pipeline expansion, with both sides filing legal actions in court and applications with the National Energy Board.

But the energy board has ruled that Burnaby can't stop the company's activities because the geotechnical work is needed by the board, so it can make recommendations to the federal government about whether the project should proceed.

The board's order forbids the City of Burnaby from undertaking any bylaw enforcement. It also says Kinder Morgan must give the city written notice of work 48 hours in advance and must remediate any damage.

It is the first time the NEB has issued an order to a municipality.