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A message on the move

'Moving Planets' campaign debuts in Squamish, then hits the road

The world as we know it is no more, says Squamish resident Ana Santos. Humanity is in the process of big change - change of such magnitude that will make us feel like we live on a completely different planet. This is her explanation for the origin of the name of her monthly Moving Planets column, featured in The Chief since December 2010.

"The column allows me to showcase very positive things that are happening around the world or in our own backyard," Santos said. "Mostly, however, my intention was to use the column to spread awareness and provoke thought on important issues that affect us all, be it locally, nationally or globally."

And although she loves delivering her message via the written word, she admits there was something missing.

"I feel a need to interact with people," Santos said, "and I feel there's a big lack of discussion at the street level about important issues that concern us all."

That has led the initiative to branch out. Santos is now set to take to the road to spark discussion about one of those current issues - the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.

The proposed pipeline would transport oil from the Alberta tar sands project to Kitimat, B.C. and Santos said this is a perfect example of an issue affecting people across provinces, demographics and race. It is imperative to see the places that will be affected and bring the stories to our community, she said.

But, she added, it just wouldn't feel right to go there in a normal car, which has led her to team up with a friend Jade Dumas, owner of Greenstone Design, to purchase a car and convert it to run on waste vegetable oil.

"I started running with Ana years ago and we talk a lot," Dumas said, adding that the idea of car sharing came up in one of those conversations. "And I started mulling over it - and the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would work."

Describing themselves as the "perfect match," Dumas is the mechanical mind behind the vehicle and is in charge of the logistics of the trip.

"I am basically here to support Ana, because she does a lot of good work," Dumas said.

The car conversion, a three-day process involving, among other things, the installation of a 53-litre tank for the waste vegetable oil, was undertaken by Scott Kerr.

"I'm really excited about the project Jade and Ana are taking on, especially considering they are practicing what they are preaching - driving in sustainable style," said Kerr, owner of Pacific Biofuel Supplies.

He added that Squamish is a leader in this new technology.

"It is the only place that I know of in Canada that has all the waste vegetable oil bases covered with three organizations. Pacific Biofuel Supplies is building and selling components for vegetable oil conversions, Switchover is doing conversions and Transphat is selling processed waste vegetable oil," he said.

The two plan to depart on April 1, ending up in Kitimat two weeks later. Along the way they'll stop in communities that would be affected by the pipeline.

They will consult with not only the city councillors and mayors, but also the public to discuss the changes facing their communities.

Moving Planets' mission is geared towards education, Santos said.

"My desire is not to convince people that these things are wrong - rather, bring the issues out into the light so that people know about them and can get engaged in a debate and decide for themselves."

She said her intention is to act as a liaison, bringing forward experts to present to the public. Chris Joseph, a Squamish resident who has worked extensively on megaproject research, is one of those. The PhD candidate and consultant will present at the upcoming movie night.

"The information that we currently have raises serious questions as to whether this project is in the public interest, and we need to allow the review process to continue uninterrupted so that these issues can be cleared up," Joseph said.

On Sunday (March 18) at the Brackendale Art Gallery, a Moving Planets fundraising breakfast will take place, entitled Chocolate con Churros. Running from 9 to 11 a.m., Santos and Dumas will serve Spanish churros and screen On the Line, a documentary that provides a journey along the proposed pipeline route. The suggested donation is $10.

On Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m. at the Howe Sound Inn, a movie and discussion night will feature a screening of the film Tipping Barrels: Journey into the Great Bear, an interview with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and a presentation by Joseph. Again, entry is by donation.

To follow Santos' blog, go to

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