A group aiming to halt old-growth logging are planning to block traffic along the Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island multiple times this week.
The group began their protests Monday morning by blocking the southbound lanes of Douglas Street near Burnside, disrupting the morning commute.
Police are on scene to ensure public safety. Public transit and motorists are being detoured at Douglas and Finlayson. The northbound lanes remain open.
Protesters have blocked southbound traffic at Douglas St & Burnside Rd E. Northbound traffic remains unobstructed. Our officers are on scene working to keep everyone safe.
— Victoria Police (@vicpdcanada) January 10, 2022
In a press release over the weekend, Save Old Growth, a collective of activists who describe themselves as a new direct action group, said that members will be targeting sections of the Trans-Canada Highway in Nanaimo and Victoria starting January 10th.
“The provincial government has failed to end all old growth logging by our deadline of January 9. Starting on January 10, ‘Save Old Growth’ will disrupt the Trans-Canada Highway,” the group said in their statement.
The group said Trans Canada Highway off-ramps will be will be blocked multiple times per week to start but said they will increase the number of protests until all old-growth logging is stopped.
Other locations that will be targeted include Vancouver and communities near Revelstoke that the Trans-Canada Highway passes through.
The group, which in one media release calls itself “an offshoot” of Extinction Rebellion, said the provincial government has broken the social contract and failed to protect BC families from the now regular climate disasters besetting our cities and towns.
“Old growth forests are the lungs of our planet, and the BC NDP and their corporate pals are lung cancer. There are no jobs on a dead planet,” said Brent Eichler, the president of Unifor local 950 and an organizer for the campaign.
Over 15 people in total are expected to risk arrest just on the first day of the campaign, according to the group, which is asking motorists to keep their cars below 30 km/h on the highway over the coming weeks.
“Many in the group will be risking repeated arrests to the point of imprisonment. The provincial government and the provincial minister of forestry have refused to act in the best interests of the public. We are declaring the Trans-Canada Highway a site of permanent nonviolent civil resistance,” Simon Fraser University student Zain Haq, a spokesperson and organizer for the campaign and member of Extinction Rebellion, said in a press release.
“During the next 6 months the government will be faced with the dilemma of either implementing their own promises or arresting and imprisoning hundreds of British Columbians,” he added.
The group has not released any information on exactly when and where they plan to continue their protests this week.