Climate activists hold sit-in at busy Vancouver intersection to protest old-growth logging
VANCOUVER -- Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion held a sit-in at a busy Vancouver intersection on Saturday afternoon in protest of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered on the front steps of Vancouver City Hall before marching down the street and sitting in the middle of the intersection of Cambie Street and West Broadway.
The group is calling on the B.C. government to permanently stop all logging in the Fairy Creek watershed, an area of old-growth forest in southwestern Vancouver Island.
The province has agreed to defer old growth logging on 2,000 hectares of Indigenous territory for two years, after a request from three Vancouver Island First Nations – the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht.
However, some want it stopped permanently, which is why the protests continue.
“I think, if they were wise, they would take a look at their policies and figure out what the people of this province really want,” says Brent Eichler, a member of Extinction Rebellion.
In the middle of the intersection, protestors talked amongst themselves, sang, and gave speeches. One of the speakers was Evie Mandel, who recently returned from a four-day trip to Fairy Creek.
“They’re still logging there,” Mandel says. “They’re still building roads. The deferral only covers a small portion of the old growth forest there. There are many, many ancient trees and habitat to protect.”
Activists are still on scene in the Fairy Creek forest, despite the pause on logging. Mandel, 65, was arrested while protesting there, but feels bold action needs to be taken if the old-growth trees are to be saved.
“We have practically no ancient forest left,” she says. “John Horgan says we’ll have a new old growth policy in 2023, but at the rate they’re logging there, these forests will already be gone in only two years.”
Mandel says her biggest concern is for the ecosystem. She says old growth trees on Vancouver Island aren’t just spectacular to look at, but play a critical role in the local environment that cannot be replicated.
“It’s the exact opposite of sustainable,” she says. “It is irreplaceable. We do not have the power as human beings to create an old-growth forest like that.”
The sit-in lasted roughly three hours before the Vancouver Police Department asked protestors to clear the area. The intersection reopened to traffic without incident. The VPD says the demonstration was peaceful and no arrests were made.