A group of environmental activists plan to practice their "civil resistance" this week and disrupt traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway at multiple locations in British Columbia, including in Vancouver.
The group, called Save Old Growth, describes itself as “an offshoot” of Extinction Rebellion, the group behind multiple protests in Metro Vancouver and Victoria that routinely blocks traffic on major roads, off- and on-ramps, and bridges in order to draw attention to the issue of climate change and what they believe is government inaction.
Similarly, Save Old Growth gave the provincial government a deadline of Jan. 9 to stop all old-growth logging in B.C., calling it an "ultimatum."
Starting Jan. 10, the group says it "will enter into a civil resistance campaign, disrupting the Trans-Canada Highway multiple times per week until they pass legislative change to immediately end all old growth logging."
The group plans to hold protests in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and Revelstoke.
"This mass disruption pushes the issue of the continued destruction of old growth forests into the faces of the public, the media and the government," notes the group in an online event listing.
“The time for discussions and petitions and all that is long past,” said Brent Eichler, president of Unifor local 950 and an organizer for the campaign. “Our world is in too bad a shape for that now.”
Eichler is also active with Extinction Rebellion and has spoken on the group's behalf. Last fall, Extinction Rebellion mounted a two-week campaign of "disruptions" in and around Vancouver, targeting bridges, intersections, and YVR Airport. Several of those protests resulted in multiple arrests.
According to Save Old Growth's social media accounts, the newly-formed group has been recruiting and training members since November 2021.
Zain Haq, SFU student and Save Old Growth spokesperson and campaign organizer, said more than 15 protestors in the group are prepared to risk arrest just on day one alone.
"During the next six months the government will be faced with the dilemma of either implementing their own promises or arresting and imprisoning hundreds of British Columbians,'' added Haq.
The group has not indicated where specifically along the Trans-Canada Highway the protestors will assemble, however, organizers indicated they would be present in Nanaimo Monday at 11 a.m.
"Initially, Highway 1 off-ramps will be blocked multiple times per week," indicated Save Old Growth's press release.
Save Old Growth is also asking motorists to keep their cars below 30 km/h on the highway over the following weeks.
B.C. RCMP, which includes the B.C. Highway Patrol, said Sunday it is aware of the protest actions and will be working with municipal police forces and others, monitoring and responding to any disruptions as they occur.
The RCMP has not been told the specific locations being targeted.
With files from Cindy E. Harnett and the Canadian Press