Members of international climate activism group, Extinction Rebellion, plan to shut down bridges in several cities across Canada today, including Johnson Street bridge in Victoria.
Between 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., protestors will be occupying the Johnson Street bridge to protest lack of climate action from national and global leaders.
Demonstrations have already begun in cities like Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax, and protestors are also scheduled to shut down Vancouver’s Burrard bridge.
“Shutting down the bridge symbolizes that we are on a bridge to nowhere,” said Mark Nykanen, an Extinction Rebellion (XR) spokesperson, in a statement.
“With droughts, deadly heatwaves, and hurricanes wiping out entire islands and cities, nature is sending us a 911 call about the climate emergency. All of us have to be first responders and take action.”
In a press release, the group stated that they will be allowing emergency vehicles, buses, cyclists, and pedestrians to pass through the blockade, and apologized for hardships caused to commuters as a result of the protest.
The group’s protest in Edmonton – in which demonstrators blocked Walterdale bridge – was dismantled earlier than planned after it caused a traffic gridlock and espoused anger and frustration from commuters.
According to Global News, police refused to take the protestors into custody and reopen the bridge by force as they “didn’t want to send the wrong message”, although the demonstrators themselves expressed that they were prepared to be arrested for the cause.
“I have no issue with the cause but…”
In Victoria, police have confirmed that they are “aware of the planned event on Monday and, as always with public demonstrations and protests, [their] focus will be on ensuring public safety at the event.”
Due to the closure of the eastbound lane of the Bay Street bridge that started this summer, the occupation will close off one of the only two ways to exit Victoria West.
The protest also coincides with the closure of Gorge Road between Tillicum and Harriet roads which would have otherwise served as a detour route for vehicles impacted by the Bay Street Bridge’s lane closure.
Several Victorians on Twitter have expressed support for demanding climate action from governments but are less enthused about the prospect of a traffic gridlock.
“I have no issue with the cause but question whether making a ton of cars sit idling in gridlock isn’t counter productive to the cause? I think more thought needs to go into these protests,” says Rick Van Helvoirt (@VanHelvoirt5).
“Don’t disrupt everyone else’s lives to make a point,” adds user Kieran (@KezaBugs).
Last week, the City of Victoria confirmed to us that Extinction Rebellion has not applied, nor been issued a permit, for their planned bridge occupation today.
- When: Monday, October 7th, 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Johnson Street Bridge
With files from Abby Neufeld.