Climate protesters march through downtown Vancouver during rush hour
VANCOUVER – About a hundred protesters gathered in downtown Vancouver Friday to disrupt rush hour traffic and demand stronger action on climate change.
The event was organized by Extinction Rebellion, the same group that shut down the Burrard Street Bridge last week, and saw participants "snake march" through the downtown core for about two hours, beginning at the intersection of Georgia and Hamilton streets and ending outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The route was a mystery to frustrated commuters, police and even the marchers themselves. Protester Grace Grignon told CTV News they made a deliberate choice not to plan their movements in advance.
"Part of why we're doing this is to cause some disruption, and having a planned route makes it quite easy to divert traffic or for people to avoid the area," Grignon said.
The protester offered an apology to anyone inconvenienced by the march, but said participants feel the importance of drawing attention to climate change issues warrants dramatic action.
"The amount of disruption that the climate crisis is already causing to certain areas and will be causing here is nothing in comparison to a march for a few hours," she said.
For the Burrard Street Bridge protest on Oct. 7, protesters blocked traffic for 12 hours. In the end, 10 people were arrested for obstruction.
While bridge traffic was blocked by activists setting up tents and playing street hockey on the bridge deck, bike lanes and sidewalks remained open.
Ahead of Friday's demonstration, Vancouver police said they would be keeping an eye on the protest and prepared to "restore order" if anything were to become unlawful. There were no reports of police incidents or arrest by the time the march ended.
TransLink also said it was preparing to use alternate routes depending on where the march ended up moving.
"TransLink is aware of a march which is expected to occur in downtown Vancouver this afternoon. We have planned for potential disruptions, with several bus services taking alternate routes," spokesperson Ben Murphy told CTV News Vancouver.
"Customers who plan on using bus services downtown this afternoon should consider building in extra travel time in case the march causes delays. TransLink will be closely monitoring the situation and can make further service adjustments as necessary."
Extinction Rebellion is urging people to keep momentum going in the wake of the Sept. 27 climate action strike that took place worldwide, including in Vancouver where an estimated 100,000 people marched from city hall to downtown Vancouver.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott, Ben Miljure and Luisa Alvarez