Pipeline opponents block busy Vancouver intersection during rush hour
Published Wednesday, February 19, 2020 2:25PM PST Last Updated Thursday, February 20, 2020 8:18AM PST
VANCOUVER -- A group of demonstrators marched through several busy intersections in East Vancouver during rush hour Wednesday in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
Hundreds of people gathered at the intersection of Commercial Drive and Broadway at 5 p.m. to express opposition to the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipeline projects in B.C.
After assembling at Commercial and Broadway, the demonstrators marched west to Clark Drive, north on Clark to First Avenue and east on First to Commercial, before returning to the original intersection.
Social media posts by organizers called the event an "intersection rally" and called for an end to "pipeline mega-projects."
"The struggle against (Trans Mountain) and (Coastal GasLink), and in defense of Indigenous rights and Mother Earth continues," the Facebook event says.
As of 2 p.m., more than 450 people said they planned to attend the rally, while another 1,300 said they were interested.
"If we gave up this struggle every time there was a disappointing government or court decision, these pipelines would have been built long ago," said one event organizer, Alison Bodine, in a news release.
"We will continue to do what has been effective so far: sustained mass action and campaigns uniting as many groups and communities as possible to stop the pipelines."
TransLink announced around 4:20 p.m. that it had been granted an injunction to prevent protesters from "physically obstructing, interfering, or otherwise impending its SkyTrain facilities," the agency said in an emailed statement.
"While TransLink supports the right to peaceful protest, the safety of our customers and our staff is our priority and we must protect the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines."
The transportation authority said Commercial-Broadway is one of its busiest stations on the SkyTrain system.
"This injunction will not prevent protests from blocking municipally and provincially owned roadways. Bus customers should be prepared for delays and detours," TransLink said.
A number of commuters expressed frustration at the roads being blocked during rush hour.
Thomas Kobala, who’s on crutches, was waiting at a bus stop near Clark Drive and East Broadway.
"Sure, I support whatever their cause is but I just want to get home right now, at this point and it’s been going on for a little while,” Kobala told CTV News.
Truck driver, Jasmir, was left waiting on Clark for over an hour.
“I think they should calm down a little bit, it’s been happening almost every day. My next move is going to get cancelled, I’m not going to make any money tonight.”
But protester, Irwin Oostindie, said the frustrations are part of the action.
“As inconveniencing as this is, which of course it is, it's a moment in Canadian history where we as a society have to go, this is going to be difficult for a month or two.”
The rally marks the latest local action in support of pipeline opponents. On Tuesday, Vancouver streets were again blocked by protest action, with a group of demonstrators marching along East Hastings Street and showing vocal solidarity with the hereditary chiefs opposed to the pipeline project in northern B.C. Previous demonstrations in the city have blocked bridges, intersections and entrances to ports.
Meanwhile, blockades have disrupted rail operations across the country. The Port of Vancouver has been feeling the effects of them, saying that due to disruptions across the country, the demand for anchorages at the port is exceeding the availability.
Now, there is a backlog of ships waiting to get in to port. As of Tuesday morning, 48 ships remained at anchorage.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott