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Granville Street Bridge reopened after pipeline protesters shut down crossing for several hours
VANCOUVER -- A group of protesters moved through downtown Vancouver Wednesday, eventually blocking vehicle access to the Granville Street Bridge.
The crossing was blocked by dozens of protesters shortly after 12:30 p.m., with some vehicles and buses being trapped on the bridge temporarily. Just after 4 p.m., Vancouver police said the bridge had reopened to traffic in both directions.
Evie Mandel said she joined the protest because she disagrees with Canada entering Wet'suwet'en land in northern B.C.
"I think that we're supposed to be in a spirit of reconciliation right now and this is a completely colonial act. We shouldn't be piling up violence for future generations to try to reconcile. The time for this is long over," Mandel said.
"There is a lot of anger about what is effectively an invasion up north. People here are peaceful and in solidarity."
In spite of it being a peaceful protest, some of the individuals stuck on the bridge were frustrated with the demonstration, with one individual on a bus saying he had a medical appointment to get to.
Eventually, that bus was allowed to go through, along with all other trapped vehicles.
Other drivers were seen getting out of their cars, looking to find out what had stopped the traffic.
"It's frustrating, it's fair that people have a protest and it's fair they're able to peacefully protest, we're in a great country that allows us to do this," said Michael Oulton, who was trying to head downtown.
"But … this is a very selfish act. I think there's (other) ways that you can protest in legitimate places where people will take notice."
Vancouver police told CTV News Vancouver that they're continuing to monitor the protests and while they have plans in place to deal with situations, they won't share publicly what those plans are.
"We acknowledge that over the past week these protests have caused many disruptions to the public. Officers will continue to reduce the impact that the protests have on local businesses, traffic and the public the best way they can," Sgt. Aaron Roed said in an email.
"We will continue to monitor the situation and our response will be appropriate and proportionate to the activities observed that jeopardize public safety and negatively impact those who live, work, and visit the area."
The protesters, who said they were standing in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C., also blocked a major intersection overnight Tuesday.
The crowd arrived at Broadway and Cambie Street at about 1 p.m. Tuesday only began clearing the area at about 5 a.m. Wednesday. Shortly before 6:30, the intersection fully reopened.
A few hours later outside the B.C. Supreme Court building, Wet'suwet'en supporters announced a legal challenge to a court injunction that was enforced outside the Port of Vancouver Monday.
In that incident, dozens of protesters were arrested both at the Vancouver port and at Deltaport after blocking access over the weekend.
After gathering outside the Supreme Court building, protesters began walking through downtown and stopped near Granville and Dunsmuir streets, outside a building where Coastal GasLink has offices.
Then at around noon, the group began moving again along Granville Street and spread out to block the ramps leading on and of the Granville Street Bridge.
Demonstrations having been heating up across the country. In Victoria, hundreds of protesters blocked access to the B.C. legislature ahead of the throne speech Tuesday. Some had been camping outside the building since Friday, and chanted "shame" as politicians tried to enter the building.
Premier John Horgan spoke to media on Wednesday about the ongoing protests, saying law enforcers have to balance protecting the rights of those who choose to protest while also "protecting the rights of citizens to get on with their lives."
"People say you're in my way, get out of my way, why aren't the cops doing something. I understand that," Horgan said.
"I drove by two bridges the other day on my way home because they were both blocked. That's disappointing, but I do not want to be able to phone the police as the leader of the government and say move those people off the bridge, that's not my role, that's why we have courts."