Pipeline opponents block access to Port of Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- Protesters have blocked access to the Port of Vancouver in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline project on their traditional territories in northern B.C.
The group of about 100 demonstrators gathered at the VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users) office on East Hastings Street near Dunlevy Avenue around 1 p.m. on Monday and began marching east along Hastings about 45 minutes later.
"We are willing to put our bodies in the streets as an expression of solidarity with our relatives, our brothers and our sisters, our aunties and our uncles and the youth who are fighting alongside Tyendinaga and Wet'suwet'en," said activist Natalie Knight.
Protesters stopped at East Hastings Street and Clark Drive and blocked access to the port just after 2:30 p.m.
Demonstrators also blocked access to the port two weeks ago, which led to the arrests of 43 people on Feb. 10. The Vancouver Police Department said at the time officers were enforcing a court order to clear three entry points at the Port of Vancouver. All 43 people were released with conditions to abide by the injunction, according to police.
In a statement, the port said they were working with Vancouver police to "address" the protest and the previous court order is still in effect.
"The disruptions to port operations over the past few weeks have had a significant impact on Canadians across the country, who rely on the businesses that import and export goods through the port for employment and for the products that support each of us every day," the port said. "While we respect the right to a peaceful protest, the port authority has a federal responsibility to ensure the safe and efficient movement of Canada’s trade through the port."
The protest action comes on the same day several people were taken into custody as police began dismantling a blockade near Belleville, Ont.
"This action is a response to the OPP's (Ontario Provincial Police) violent arrests of Mohawk land defenders on their ancestral lands in Tyendinaga, Ontario," protest organizers said in a statement.
Vancouver police tweeted just after 3 p.m. that the intersection of Clark Drive and East Hastings Street was closed with traffic blocked in both directions. Drivers were being warned to find alternative routes.
West Coast Express service was also suspended on Monday afternoon because of protesters along the route, TransLink announced around 4:30 p.m.