B.C. old growth logging protesters snarl traffic, nine arrested in Metro Vancouver

Drivers were fit to be tied by logging protesters blocking key routes on the Monday morning commute, but blockade organizers say the inconvenience to society from catastrophic climate change is going to be much worse. Liza Yuzda has more.

Nine people have been arrested in Metro Vancouver after demonstrations brought traffic to a standstill on several major B.C. routes Monday morning.

Last week, Save Old Growth announced protesters would again be taking direct action in targeting “critical infrastructure.” Their demonstrations snarled traffic on Highway 99 by the Massey Tunnel and the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge Monday morning.

By 7:20 a.m. protesters had blocked the southbound lane of the Massey Tunnel. As of 7:45 a.m., they had shut down the northbound lanes on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge between Vancouver and North Vancouver.

“Three people were found sitting on Highway 99 while a fourth person was perched on a platform ladder,” Richmond RCMP said in a statement.

Police appeared to have moved that person from the ladder before 8 a.m. The commute through from Richmond through to Delta was very slow.

Mounties say the person on the ladder was in breach of conditions from a previous arrest in another city. All four were arrested and the RCMP says it is pursuing criminal charges.

Highway 99 protester on a ladder

A protester was on a ladder during a demonstration on Highway 99 near the Massey Tunnel on June 13, 2022. (Submitted photo)

Meanwhile, Vancouver police say three unoccupied vehicles had been “strategically placed by protesters” on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, with the intent of blocking bridge traffic.

“VPD officers intervened and arrested four people who attempted to lock themselves to a steering wheel inside a car on the bridge deck,” reads a statement from the force.

They, along with a fifth person who was arrested on the bridge deck, were taken into custody for mischief and intimidation by blocking a roadway.

Four vehicles at that site were seized by police.

Related Article: Save Old Growth protester hospitalized after falling from ladder on Vancouver Island

Save Old Growth has warned it will be ramping up disruptions in its continued protest of old growth logging in B.C.

One commuter says she gave herself tons of time to get to work from Port Coquitlam to North Vancouver, but was met with a “parking lot” along Highway 1 instead, due to the protest along the Ironworkers Bridge.

“I got my little one out of bed at 5:45 a.m., which is pretty ridiculous, but I did,” Ashley told CityNews during her morning commute. “I left the house at 7 a.m. I’m a single mom. It’s 8:42 a.m. and I’ve made it to the Grandview Highway.”

“I really hope something is done to stop this because they have a right to protest, but we have the right to get to work and feed our families,” she added.

Protests were cleared by 9 a.m., though the traffic backups continued well after that.

Insp. Mark Baxter with Richmond RCMP says police respect people’s rights to “lawful, peaceful, and safe protests.”

“However when blocking a major highway is neither lawful or safe, the police need to mitigate the circumstances. Police are mandated to assuring public safety and the safety of everyone including the protestors.”

A spokesperson for Vancouver police issued a similar statement.

“Unlawful protests that clog vital pieces of infrastructure put peoples’ safety at risk,” said VPD Sgt. Steve Addison. “While we support everyone’s right to lawfully assemble and peacefully express their views, the Vancouver Police Department will continue to work proactively to prevent illegal protests and allow people to safely move around the region.”

Demonstration on Vancouver Island, past protests

In addition to the protests in Metro Vancouver, demonstrators also shut down Highway 17 near the Swartz Bay ferry terminal on Vancouver Island Monday morning.


Previously, the group has targeted routes like the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, the Lions Gate Bridge, and Highway 1, among others sites on the Lower Mainland and other parts of the province.

They’ve also taken their protests off the roads. Last week, two members of the group stripped half naked and attached themselves to the goal posts at a Canada men’s national soccer game at BC Place.

As traffic has snarled, many commuters have not been impressed and frustrations have boiled over into anger for some.

There have been confrontations, with protesters dragged off the road before police arrived.

Organizers have previously said they are okay with the anger being directed at them, arguing drastic measures need to be taken.

“Protecting our last remaining old growth forests is a complete no-brainer. We’ve been systemically lied to by the B.C. government,” said Zain Haq, coordinator for Save Old Growth. “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.”

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The group is demanding the NDP government enact legislation to ban all old growth logging in B.C.

Despite the anger being directed at Save Old Growth, veteran environmentalist Joe Foy, who was part of the huge Clayoquot Sound protests on the west coast of Vancouver Island of the early 1990s and who is now with the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, believes just as many people now are committed to causes like this.

“Concern and action for the environment is broader and greater, I believe, than it was in 1993,” he told CityNews. “A lot of people, myself included, feel a lot of angst about the news and information we are getting about climate change, loss of species, loss of wilderness … the way to get through that angst is to do something.”

Foy says for some people that could be blocking a logging road or protesting in the city. For others, he notes it may be writing a letter or donating to an environmental group.

“There’s a huge amount of people involved, it’s just that they are involved in different ways — some that you can see, some that you can’t see. We may not see what our neighbours are doing, but they are doing things. It’s what gives people hope.”

A group called Clear the Roads has a different kind of hope, trying to galvanize the backlash against the Save Old Growth protesters. Members announced last week that that group is researching the idea of a class action lawsuit against the protesters “as a remedy for illegal road blockades in B.C.”

-With files from Hana Mae Nassar and Greg Bowman

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