We try to keep a pretty low profile here at Toad Hollow in regards to politically charged subjects.  When it comes to opinions on matters of politics, we believe that just like a nose everybody has one.  With our deeply rooted love for Fine Art and all that Vancouver Island has to offer it seems that now our work has crossed an intersection in the political realm that requires us to make our stand.  If you haven’t heard about Enbridge and their plan to create a very dangerous and ill-conceived Northern Gateway Pipeline, please pull up a chair and prepare for quite the story here.

Cowichan Bay Seascapes - Cowichan Bay, BC, Canada - No To The Northern Gateway Pipeline

Cowichan Bay Seascapes – Cowichan Bay, BC, Canada –

The British Columbia coastline is a pristine and delicate part of the world.  The West Coast of Canada is home to rainforests that are crucial for the well-being of the planet as a whole, and incredibly fragile ecosystems that rely on a safe and clean environment to live and thrive.  Each piece of the puzzle relies on the others and any sort of imbalance in this can have catastrophic results.

Big Oil in Alberta, which is coincidentally where our Prime Minister Stephen Harper hails from, is determined to destroy this, all in the name of profit.

Cowichan Bay Seascapes - Cowichan Bay, BC, Canada - No To The Northern Gateway Pipeline

Cowichan Bay Seascapes – Cowichan Bay, BC, Canada –

Now, I want to be abundantly clear here in an effort to ward off as much flaming as possible when it comes to a subject like this that is so politically charged.  We truly believe in economic development.  Entire communities benefit from these activities, we all see our quality of life improve when advancements and developments are realized.  We do not believe this particular project falls into this category at all.  Let us explain.

A report was just released recently by a group of Canadian regulators.  For additional information on the report, please see “Canada regulator urges approval of oil-export pipeline” and “Northern Gateway pipeline project: 6 things to know“.  Based on the incredible opposition in BC to this project, we’re really left wondering who the people on this panel are.  This just doesn’t align with our wishes at all and has left much of the entire province feeling like we’ve been completely ignored.  All we can say on that particular note is thank goodness there is a federal election next year here in Canada, many of us believe that Stephen Harper’s days are numbered, and in no small part to how he’s trying desperately to stuff this entire thing down our throats here.

Cowichan Bay Seascapes - Cowichan Bay, BC, Canada - No To The Northern Gateway Pipeline

Cowichan Bay Seascapes – Cowichan Bay, BC, Canada –

There is no real way to cleanup after a massive spill, my friends.  Portions of the spill can be contained and remediated, but the event as a whole will definitely leave harmful residue behind for many, many years.  If not forever.  Anyone who says otherwise is either a pawn of the industry or is trying to fool themselves.  Secondly, Enbridge as a company has a terrible record in this area, check out this Google Search which reveals 233,000 page results…  almost all of which paint a pretty bad picture of the company as a whole and how they conduct themselves when they make a mess in someone else’s backyard.  They should be ashamed of themselves, yet somehow they march on with the tacit approval of our federal government.  For further background information on Enbridge, check out this Wikipedia article and the big section near the bottom that discusses their Spills and Violations.

Enbridge claims the pipeline will create over 3,000 construction jobs and 560 long-term jobs in B.C, which it says would translate to $32 million per year in earned income flowing into local economies.

As for safety issues, Enbridge says a team of over 200 experts and scientists conducted a comprehensive environmental assessment of the project route, and that 70 per cent of the route will go through previously disturbed land.

There are a couple of really glaring points in these two statements.  560 long-term jobs and $32 million per year in income?  That is supposed to sound like a perk?  This is just beyond ludicrous when you consider the BILLIONS of dollars this pipeline would generate in revenue.  $32 million annually is a pittance my friends, our BC Ferries use over $121 million a year in fuel by themselves!  I don’t believe we could effectively install road signs for $32 million a year, let alone mitigate the after-effects of a catastrophic disaster.  Most of the profits from this venture will funnel right back into the pockets of billionaire Albertans, with little benefit to BC at all.  They really are working hard to find a way to polish this particular pile of controversy into a diamond.  Good luck there, contrary to popular belief BC is full of educated people who can easily see past a commercial intended to sell us something.

Secondly, when you take a close look at the statement above, they literally have assigned more than 1/3 of the total jobs we’d supposedly get from this project to writing a report that makes it sound like a good thing!  In our books this whole thing has gone from a serious problem to absolute disrespect on behalf of all BC residents.

This just isn’t good enough.

In the next little while, as the battle continues to unfold, you will see us standing up here at The Hollow for what we believe in.  We will be working with key groups, like the fabulous people who work tirelessly at One Cowichan and the great group over at the Dogwood Initiative.  Also, check out the great page hosted at One Cowichan’s website, “Stand Up for BC – One Cowichan” which outlines the upcoming campaign to put an end to this madness.

We are peace-loving Toads here at The Hollow.  As such, the only weapons we have to bear in this fight are our camera and our pen.  With that in mind, we are on assignment this coming weekend to get out and capture photographs of the beautiful Vancouver Island coastlines and features to assist in the fight that is coming.  We hope that these will not become some of the last pictures of BC in its true state.

Thanks for taking the time to pop by and visit us here today, we really appreciate it.  We love to hear from all our visitors so please do feel free to leave us any comments you may have.  It’s time to stand up for what we believe in, thanks so much for your support.




  1. avatar jmccastner says:

    As for me — I don’t like fracking (the word used in USA) and and even accidental oil rigger spills from non-fracking situations messily interrupt the nature balance. Sure hope that Steve guy gets voted out and a compassionate Nature enthusiast replaces him!!

  2. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    I truly hope this situation get worked out for the will of the people. It sounds quite familiar as it is not unlike what has been proposed here in parts of the US. Big oil and it’s deep-pocketed lobbyist always seem to place profits ahead of nature and the will of the residents in targeted areas.

    Hoping for the best, my friend.

  3. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Thanks for bringing this to light Toad. I honestly didn’t realize this was going on.

  4. avatar Rachel Cohen says:

    Hi Toad, I can see this is one of those times you just have to take a stand! Sadly these types of things are destroying our whole planet! Thanks so much for sharing the info. Wishing you and Mrs Toad all the best!

  5. avatar Andy Hooker says:

    Put up a good fight, Toad – I’m sure you will. The BC coastline is one I have sailed down and this is pristine coastline – it cannot be risked to make profit.

  6. Glad to see so many anti “fracking” support comments. Do keep us posted on the weekly progress of this insidious government activity!//Have an encouraging day at the Hollow!

    • Thanks so very much! We’re so delighted to see you popping by again and being involved with our work, that means a lot! We’re just getting warmed up here with our work on this initiative, please do stay tuned for updates!

  7. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    I am sure that if the people of Alaska and the Gulf Coast could do it over again, they would fight against big oil when it comes to our pristine natural resources. Fight the could fight Toad. Even though you only have your pen and camera, don’t forget that the pen is mightier…

    • Well said, our kind friend, well said indeed!! It’s through the support and encouragement of people just like you Len that we are motivated to do what we can! Thank you, from both of us to you!

  8. Thank you Mr Toad for talking about the spewing of Canada’s Mordor, the tar sands, Canada’s shame. Keep it away from here and let us close it down at its murderous source.

    • Hear, hear Joseph, well said indeed my good friend! Thanks for your support and encouragement! We’re determined to do what we can here on this fight, please stay tuned for updates!

  9. avatar Rick Louie says:

    If more people spoke out for what they believe and stand for this planet would be a better place. Money influences many things and unfortunately big business has a lot of influence, not only in oil. It’s exposing like this to the people who go with the flow that will change the way things happen. Keep up the good fight! It would be a shame to lose this coastline.

    • Thank you so much for your kind support and words of encouragement here, Rick, we just can’t tell you how much we appreciate that! We’ll do what we can over here to pitch in on this front, stay tuned for updates my friend!

  10. Excellent post, Toad (and of course accompanied by lovely images too).

    The Harper government is working in a myriad of ways to push an agenda that is very bad for our coast, including all of us who live here – humans and non-humans alike. Their attack on science and muzzling of scientists, their unravelling of long-established environmental laws and regulatory tools through “omnibus” budget bills, and their resource-extraction-focused economic agenda are all connected parts of this agenda.

    And of course it’s happening in our corner of BC as well as the north coast, through the Kinder Morgan expansion plan that will vastly increase the number of oil tankers travelling through the narrow waters of Burrard Inlet and through the fragile island archipelagos of our Salish Sea – making a major spill right here, where we live, a certainty. Bitumen shouldn’t even be called oil – it’s more like tar, and thus it sinks in the marine environment, making cleanup impossible.

    I’m very glad to hear you’re lending your talents to this cause, Toad, and look forward to hearing more as the campaign develops.

    • Wonderful, wonderful comments Laurie, we wholeheartedly agree with you completely here!!!! 🙂 Many many thanks for visiting and showing your support, and yes, please do stay tuned for updates as we continue to work on what we believe to be one of our most important projects to-date.

  11. I’m with you 100%, Mr. and Mrs. Toad! I’m signing petitions and writing letters. Kudos to you for standing up against the greedy companies and the government that supports them. Even if I don’t live there, I consider it my Canada too and I want your beautiful part of the country preserved for future generations!

    • We simply cannot tell you how much your kind and gracious support means to us and all the people who live in BC, Sherry! You’re the best, my friend!!! Thanks for popping by and showing your support, that means the world to us!

  12. avatar Frank Calesso says:

    I’m currently working in Alberta’s oil sands. A pipeline to the west coast is a very divisive issue. Its all in an effort to expand Canada’s oil exports to new markets. Like you, I agree economic development is vital for any thriving economy. Through royalties from the sale of Alberta’s oil, Alberta gives the rest of Canada billions of dollars annually which include Canada’s 2 most populous provinces (Ontario & Quebec). In addition, there are residents of every province of the country come to Alberta’s oil sands to work. The pay they receive, goes home to their own communities. I work with 2 Austrailian nationals who have work visas. There are many more foriegners who are working here. Alberta’s oil sands is the engine that drives the Canadian economy, without it tens of thousands would be unemployed. There Canadian & American companies are very concious of the environmental inpact their operations have, and do their best. This debate will continue for quite some time, which in a free democratic country is a great thing, but what impact does Canada’s oil sands have on the world’s environment? There are worse polluters in this world, and we don’t hear of any protests or calls for them to clean up their operations. Is it because they are not free democratic countries?

    • We love to hear the other side of the story. Thanks for your kind visit and thoughtful comments today Frank. There are definitely 2 sides to this story and we are very sympathetic to the effects these projects have on our economy. If not for the likelihood of a catastrophe that would pretty much ruin our beloved coast, I guarantee that British Columbians would be behind this project. We just haven’t been assured in this regard and as such many of us are totally opposed to the project, understanding the impact of our viewpoint on the average working Canadian. There just has to be a better way, my friend… we don’t propose to know the answer, that’s for sure, but we really do believe that the current course of action isn’t it. Again, many many thanks for popping by and sharing your voice in this discussion, it’s only through open hearts and open channels that we can have any hope of finding resolution. Best wishes to you, your family and your friends.

  13. avatar PatG says:

    Thanks for taking the time to bring this to the attention of others in the photographic community. Thanks also for standing up for the pristine environment and the livelihoods of those whose well-being, income and families depend on that environment. Thanks also for letting people know this is NOT about development; this oil will be shipped to China to be refined and used there. It will not benefit the people of the West Coast or of Canada at all, except for the 1% of Canadians who profit from oil, its use, its distribution and even the cleanups when disaster inevitably happens and a spill occurs. As a photographer it is important to find and celebrate beauty but as a citizen of this planet and a human being it is important do one’s part to protect all species, including our own, from extinction and our planet from the devastation of sulphuric seas and poisoned air so that the beauty we see will endure and be seen by all.

    • Well said, Pat, thank you for sharing your views here!!! We completely agree with you on your points. Thank you so much for both taking the time to visit and for leaving these very thoughtful comments for everyone to enjoy. We love coming together with a like-minded community and sharing our voice like this, thank you so much for visiting and we hope to see you again here at The Hollow!!

  14. avatar Will P says:

    Great article. It’s frightening the way that big corporations are willing to rip our planet apart with no concern for the future whilst politicians who are supposed to support the people just dance to the corporate fiddle.

    All the best (from the UK)

    • Well said, Will, thank you! We really appreciate your support, both Mrs. Toad and I and the entire province, I am sure! This story is far from over and we remain optimistic, but only time will tell. All the best to you and yours, as well, my friend, thank you for visiting!!