An old-growth demonstrator was sent to hospital on Monday morning after falling several metres from the top of a ladder during a road blockade that saw a section of the Pat Bay Highway closed.
In a continued push for legislation to end old-growth logging in BC, activist group Save Old Growth said its members would block northbound traffic leading to Swartz Bay, near Tsehum Harbour Park, starting at 5:30 a.m.
According to Sidney RCMP, officers arrived on scene just before 6 a.m. and reopened one lane following reports that around a dozen protesters were bringing traffic to a complete stop.
BC RCMP Cpl. Alex Bérubé says some old-growth protesters physically attached themselves to a physical structure, including the protester perched atop a ladder who fell onto the highway. Their injuries are unknown at this time.
— Adam Stirling (@Adam_Stirling) June 13, 2022
There are reports the ladder collapsed as a result of a commuter snapping a support beam.
A Save Old Growth supporter, Ronin Swanson, captured footage of the incident and responded to a tweet that included the video, claiming that “someone broke one of the supports”.
Swanson also posted the full video of the incident on his own Instagram, which you can see below:
As seen in the video, tensions were high as commuters attempted to get around the blockade, some even leaving their vehicles to address the protesters.
Bérubé told Victoria Buzz that RCMP have watched the video, and the incident is being investigated for any possible criminality.
“I am glad that this incident is getting [the] attention it deserves, and I hope that the demand from Save Old Growth can get just as much without having to employ high-risk tactics,” said organizer Sophia Papp.
According to the organization, the Save Old Growth member is in hospital with serious injuries after falling nearly 15 feet.
“He fell from the ladder after a support was destroyed by an enraged man who responded, “I don’t care,” after being warned repeatedly by observers that doing so could result in serious injury,” reads a statement from the group.
“The incident – and the deliberate destruction of the ladder support – was witnessed by more than a dozen people and filmed by a Save Old Growth media representative.”
The group also took to Twitter on Monday morning, saying members had blocked off the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and Massey Tunnel to commuters in Vancouver.
That comes following a Thursday, June 9th statement from the group, which claimed its members would “disrupt critical infrastructure in BC” to kick off the work week.
“Protecting our last remaining old-growth forests is a complete no-brainer. We’ve been systemically lied to by the BC government,” said Save Old Growth coordinator Zain Haq.
“Through our civil resistance efforts, we’ll create political urgency for the government to represent the will of the people rather than serve the forestry lobby.”
Recent months have seen the group set up roadblocks along busy transportation arteries across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
Northbound Pat Bay Highway traffic has opened to single-lane traffic.
"The earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us."
– George Monbiot
Photos from Victoria blockade pic.twitter.com/Q2VGt6wF4a
— Save Old Growth (@saveoldgrowth) June 13, 2022
The province of BC says it’s working with First Nations to defer logging of old-growth and develop a new approach to sustainable forest management.
“Deferrals have been implemented on nearly 1.7 million hectares of old-growth, including approximately 1.05 million hectares of BC’s forests most at risk of irreversible loss,” the government said.