Seven more arrests, 21 in total at anti-logging camp on Vancouver Island: RCMP

·2 min read

LAKE COWICHAN, B.C. — Mounties say they have arrested seven more people along a remote forest service road on southern Vancouver Island as they enforce a court injunction ordering the removal of blockades set up to protest old-growth logging.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says in a statement the RCMP have now arrested 21 people since enforcement began earlier this week, including 17 for breaching the civil injunction and four for obstruction of justice.

Of the 17 arrested for breaching the injunction, he says police are also recommending that two be charged with obstruction, two with possession of stolen property and one with obstruction and assaulting a police officer.

Manseau says the area along the McClure forest service road west of Lake Cowichan was cleared yesterday to allow Teal Cedar Products to resume work, but several people returned and attached themselves to structures.

Of the seven arrested today, he says six were found in civil contempt of court and one person was escorted out with no charges recommended.

Manseau says everyone arrested today refused to sign conditional release documents, so they will be held overnight at the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment before appearing in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo on Friday.

More than three dozen protesters gathered in front of the Environment Ministry offices in Victoria on Thursday saying they support those arrested.

The blockaders set up camp along the McClure forest service road in the Caycuse area around Easter, while others have been camped out since last August around the Fairy Creek watershed near Port Renfrew.

Activists say very little of the best old-growth forest remains in B.C. and Fairy Creek is the last unprotected, intact old-growth valley on southern Vancouver Island.

Teal Jones says about 200 hectares of the 1,200-hectare watershed is available for harvest and the rest is either protected or on unstable terrain.

The company says in a statement it plans to harvest about 20 hectares from the harvestable area, which is at a higher elevation on the north ridge of the watershed and contains mostly hemlock and cypress trees.

Teal Jones respects peaceful protest and has a "decades-long history of engagement with First Nations, responsible forest management, and value-added manufacture" in B.C., vice-president Gerrie Kotze says in a statement.

The company's work within its tree farm licence is "undertaken in accordance with British Columbia's strong environmental regulations and only after meaningful engagement with First Nations," he says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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