Protesters against old-growth logging dig in as company appeals denial of court injunction

·3 min read
Protesters remain at Fairy Creek despite a court decision on Tuesday not to extend an injunction against blockading the work of Teal Cedar Products Ltd.  (Ken Mizokoshi/CBC - image credit)
Protesters remain at Fairy Creek despite a court decision on Tuesday not to extend an injunction against blockading the work of Teal Cedar Products Ltd. (Ken Mizokoshi/CBC - image credit)

All sides in the old-growth logging dispute dug in deeper Wednesday after a British Columbia Supreme Court judge refused to extend an injunction against protest blockades on southern Vancouver Island.

On Wednesday, forest company Teal Cedar Products Ltd. filed to appeal the decision handed down Justice Douglas Thompson on Tuesday.

"To do otherwise would be to allow anarchy to reign over civil society, and for misinformation campaigns to win over fact," a company statement read.

The logging company said if it cannot continue its work, it may be forced to lay off employees and shut down mills.

Luke Wallace, a spokesman for the protest group Rainforest Flying Squad, said supporters will stay put at blockade camps near Fairy Creek, a remote area north of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island.

"Teal Jones still has every intent of logging all the remaining old growth in that valley and the surrounding valleys, and so we will be present on that land until the reality is changed," Wallace said.

Ken Mizokoshi/CBC
Ken Mizokoshi/CBC

Thompson's ruling immediately lifted the injunction that had been in place since April. He said the RCMP's enforcement of the court order led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties.

However, Thompson also wrote that interactions between protesters and police have largely been respectful and non-violent even though there have been more than 1,000 arrests at Fairy Creek since the original injunction went into effect.

In a statement, the National Police Federation said they are proud of the way the RCMP approached the enforcement of the injunction.

"On many occasions over the last 133 days, they have embodied the thin blue line between order and chaos," federation president Brian Sauvé said.

Protesters aren't budging

After the decision on Tuesday, the mood at camp was joyous, according to some protesters who remain at Fairy Creek.

"It was amazing," said Charlotte Jones.

"They had a bonfire, they had music, everybody sitting around the fire, singing some songs."

Ken Mizokoshi/CBC
Ken Mizokoshi/CBC

But the peace didn't last for long.

Protesters say that as soon as they could Tuesday evening, they drove their cars up the logging road which had previously been blocked off by a gate during the injunction, in order to re-establish some of their previous camps.

Shortly after, a bulldozer came in and dug two trenches on the logging road, witnesses say. Police arrived later on to block off a section of the road to allow the crews to work.

Police say they were enforcing section 22.2 of the Forest and Range Practices Act, which was cited in the ruling Tuesday.

"That means they were trying to block us from going in," believes Jones.

Protesters started filling in the trenches with shovels soon after until police told them they would be arrested for mischief if they carried on.

RCMP told CBC News that they were also there investigating after a complaint from the company saying that someone had been on their bulldozer.

"Our role in this situation and the situation itself is being reviewed," said Const. Crystal Evelyn.

Ken Mizokoshi/CBC
Ken Mizokoshi/CBC

"We're here to investigate criminal complaints, and the Criminal Code applies all the time like it applied the whole time before."

In June, Premier John Horgan announced the province would defer old-growth logging for two years in Fairy Creek as well as the central Walbran area.

But the Rainforest Flying Squad says old-growth forests outside of the deferred areas are still at risk of being logged.

"We are still in Fairy Creek and the surrounding old-growth forests and protecting those forests until the government puts them under permanent protection," said Wallace.

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