When Ana Santos and Jade Dumas pulled into town last month they may have sent area birds into a frenzy.
They say it’s happened to them at least once as they drove through B.C.’s Northwest. The birds get up in arms, so to speak, because their vehicle, a 2006 Volkswagen Golf, actually runs on filtered vegetable oil.
The pair drove to Kitimat as part of their tour of northern communities who stand to be impacted, one way or another, from the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Santos, a columnist for the Squamish Chief newspaper, and Dumas, a close friend and self described “Santos helper,” were on the tour to meet with people both for and against the project to get a sense of how people think about it.
“It gives us an idea of how people are thinking and how things are progressing along the way,” said Santos.
Santos plans to bring her knowledge back to Squamish for future columns.
What this tour has shown them is that opinion on the pipeline gets stronger the further north they go — in contrast, in Squamish knowledge is growing on the project however opinion remains fairly neutral.
That’s not the case in the north, particularly in Kitimat where they say that there are lots of people who will speak against the project. That being said they have found that Kitimat, more than most other communities they’ve visited, does seem to have more people who favour the project.
That’s based on people telling them they know of others who support the project.
Yet the people who are against the project are “very” against the project, said Dumas.
“We haven’t been able to find anybody willing to speak up for the pipeline,” she said.
During their two day stay in Kitimat, the two attended a Douglas Channel Watch meeting and spent a day climbing Clague Mountain.
They set off for Prince Rupert for their next stop after leaving town.
Although they are opposed to the pipeline, they do believe everyone should have their own informed opinion on the project, even if it’s in favour of it.
“Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you think,” said Dumas.
Ana and Jade’s mode of transport was a modified 2006 Volkswagen Golf.
Converted by a mechanic in Squamish, the vehicle runs on filtered vegetable oil, supplied by another Squamish local.
Ana describes the process as fairly simple for them to have done. The vehicle has the oil tank in their trunk and some extra tubes can be seen running through the engine. They also had to install a smaller battery.
The vehicle does still run on diesel as well and usually they drive on that until the engine heats slightly, allowing the oil time to get the right consistency.
In mid-drive they simply hit a switch and the car seamlessly switches to the vegetable oil.
It gets the same mileage as it would on diesel, which is approximately 1,000 km to a tank, said Santos.
They acknowledge that cooking oil as fuel isn’t an option for everyone or is something that should be adopted more widely, but they say things such as this car can show that creativity can bring new solutions to otherwise reduce use of fossil fuels.