An anti-old growth logging group says it plans to mount multiple blockades of the Trans-Canada Highway in Revelstoke starting on April 4, saying that it expects the blockades will lead to arrest of protesters here.
The Save Old Growth group is a relatively new protest-based organization in B.C. that emphasizes blockades of the Trans-Canada Highway as a means to pressure the provincial government to end logging of old-growth forests.
Multiple arrests have been documented in media accounts, mostly in the Lower Mainland and Southern Vancouver Island, and the group claims 54 protesters have been arrested so far. Protesters block the highway, often by sitting on the roadway. They are arrested by police after refusing to move.
In Revelstoke, protesters holding Save Old Growth banners temporarily blocked the Trans-Canada Highway at its intersection with Victoria Road on Jan. 15, 2022.
Unlike many other protests in B.C. by the group that led to arrests, the Revelstoke protesters blocked the highway intermittently, moving aside every few minutes to let vehicles pass. The group left after police arrived.
Nevertheless, it led to confrontations and scenes with a significant risk to protesters from motor vehicles as counter-protesters gathered to confront the. Some vehicles stopped behind the temporary blockades lurched at the protesters or accelerated around them. The protest happened as darkness fell.
Group plans larger scale arrests
In previous reporting, revelstokemountaineer.com noted that following the January protest, the local group said it was pausing protests to regroup. Since then the group held an organizing session at the Revelstoke Community Centre and now vows to be back with more blockades.
The group says its “demand” is legislation that ends all old-growth logging in B.C. and that it wants to engage in dialogue with the provincial government.
In an April 1 media release, the group said the provincial government hadn’t been responsive enough to its demands: “So now we are left with no other option than to resume blockades at a significantly escalated intensity on the 4th of April,” they wrote.
When asked, the group said it had let the Revelstoke RCMP detachment know about the planned protests, but said it had not provided the times or locations of the upcoming protest. It also said it would not provide those details to revelstokemountaineer.com.
When asked what steps the group is taking to reduce the risk of injury to protesters from dangerous interactions with motor vehicles as seen in the first protest, spokesperson Thea Gilchrist said the blockade would happen at “a much smaller intersection with no space for moving vehicles.”
“We are committed to non-violence and understand that this cannot totally account for everyone’s behaviour,” Gilchrist wrote in a response, adding that not disclosing the location helps buy time to prevent “planned confrontations.”