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New environmentalist group plans to block highway off-ramp in Greater Victoria Monday

Save Old Growth spokesperson says group members have no other choice than to risk lives
A new group opposed to logging old-growth forest in areas such as Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew called Save Old Growth plans to interrupt traffic Monday morning. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

The spokesperson for a new environmental group opposed to old-growth logging says its members have no other choice than to risk their lives by blocking off-ramps to the Trans-Canada Highway across British Columbia including Victoria, tomorrow, Jan. 10.

Brent Eichler of Save Old Growth (which he said formed two weeks ago) said its indefinite, ongoing campaign to disrupt the highway will initially see members block off-ramps with their bodies multiple times per week with actions escalating until all old-growth logging ceases.

“So it’s not going to be right in downtown Victoria, but it will be on the outskirts,” he said in an interview with Black Press Media. The group is also planning for actions in Nanaimo, Vancouver and near Revelstoke. “For the Victoria location, it is going to be between 7 and 7:30 a.m.”

Eichler said it is not clear how many people will participate. “We have only just begun this process, so we have doing meetings with people and we are continuing that right up to this evening. We are starting off fairly small, but we are growing our numbers as we go along.”

Eichler said earlier in a release that the group has chosen this path because the provincial government has broken the social contract by failing to end all old-growth logging by the group’s deadline of Jan. 9.

While there is danger in undertaking these life-risking actions, old-growth logging cannot be stopped in other ways, said Eichler.

“We have had Greenpeace and all these groups fighting for what is right for decades and decades and the world is just in a worse and worse situation,” he said. “We are seeing in the way that our towns are burning down, our towns are flooding, in the way that the biology around us is disappearing. We are in a mass extinction event. We are in such a dire strait, that there is no other means of affecting change.” All other methods such as elections and corporate boycotts have failed, he added.

RELATED: Elders for old growth arrested as Fairy Creek blockade readies for winter

RELATED: B.C. hears from 161 First Nations on plans for old-growth logging deferrals

“We have political parties that have different names, but they do the exact same things,” he said. “We have tried the corporate actions, but that doesn’t work. Corporations now have so much money, that they will just laugh us off. So we need to be out there in the public doing these radical things and creating a dialogue about how desperate a situation the life-support system of this (planet) is.”

Eichler said a majority of British Columbians and Canadians as a whole oppose old-growth logging but acknowledges the coming protests likely won’t be popular.

“We understand that motorists will be very angry at us and we are willing to accept that,” he said. “We are looking to history. We know that any movement that created radical change was deeply hated by some in the public, so we are prepared for that.”

Eichler said the group is asking motorists to keep their cars below 30 km/h on the highway during the following weeks.

“We will be stopping traffic, so the traffic is going to stop one way or the other,” he said. “We are hoping that it can be done without any injuries to us and to any motorists as well.”

Eichler said the group draws inspiration from the current Insulate Britain campaign in the United Kingdom as well as the Freedom Riders of the 1960s, who were trying to desegregate states once part of the Confederacy during the American civil war in the mid-19th century.

When asked about the group’s connection to the protesters at Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew, Eichler said it has ties to many other groups. “But we are a brand-new group and of course, we are speaking to the people at Fairy Creek and many of the people in our group have been there and have been arrested many times.”

The coming protest marks another development around the subject of old-growth logging marked by almost two years of protests against plans by Teal Jones to log old-growth in the Fairy Creek region located on Pacheedaht First Nation territory.

It is unfolding against ongoing negotiations between the provincial government and First Nations to defer harvest of ancient, rare and priority large stands of old-growth within 2.6 million hectares of B.C.’s most at-risk old-growth forests after having proposed a two-year-deferral on Nov. 1, 2021, to more than 200 First Nations.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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