After a protest blocked both directions of Highway 17 Sunday evening , Saanich PD have issued a statement letting the public know their Major Crime Unit will be conducting a criminal investigation.
Saanich Police said the investigation may result in a recommendation of charges to Crown Counsel.
On Sunday November 21st at approximately 3:30 p.m., a Traffic Safety Unit officer came across a group of protesters who had gathered in the northbound lane of Highway 17.
According to police, the group was holding signs and impeding traffic along the highway, posing a safety risk to themselves, motorists and making it difficult for emergency vehicles.
As a result, Saanich PD officers closed the highway.
— DriveBC (@DriveBC) November 22, 2021
The protest continued, resulting in the highway remaining closed from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Motorists were detoured through Cordova Bay, causing congestion throughout these neighbourhoods and concerns from residents regarding motorists speeds through residential areas.
— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) November 22, 2021
According to Saanich Police, they were not notified of this protest or unauthorized road closure ahead of time.
“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affords everyone the right to peaceful, safe and lawful assemblies. While the group was peaceful, their actions were neither safe nor lawful” said Constable Markus Anastasiades in a media release.
“While no arrests were made last night, our Major Crime Unit is conducting a criminal investigation which may result in a recommendation of charges to Crown Counsel.”
— Charles Bodi – 'Community Inclusion Manager' (@CharlesBodi) November 22, 2021
The protest was in support of the Wet’suwet’en demonstrations and the fight against fossil fuels.
Now, Saanich Police are asking any members of the public who may have obtained video of this incident or anyone who has other witness information to contact the Saanich Police non-emergency line at 250-475-4321 or Detective Leanne Rowan at firstname.lastname@example.org.