Protesters block the road access to one of Vancouver’s port entrances in Vancouver Sunday, February 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Coastal GasLink protesters served with injunction for blocking Vancouver ports

Judge orders protesters to leave port lands and stop blockading access points in Vancouver and Delta

Anti-pipeline protesters were served Sunday with a court injunction ordering them to stop blocking access to four ports in the Vancouver area, marking the latest development in what has become a national movement to halt construction on the natural gas project.

The injunction, sought by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and signed by Justice Michael Tammen, orders protesters to leave the authority’s lands and stop blockading access points to ports in Vancouver and Delta.

“The police are ordered to arrest and remove any person who has knowledge of this order and who the police have reasonable and probable grounds to believe is contravening or has contravened any provision of this order,” the court document reads.

A spokeswoman for the authority said there was no option but to force the protesters out so port operations can resume, but the protesters say they intend to stay.

They’re acting in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who are trying to halt construction of a massive pipeline project that crosses their traditional territory in northwestern B.C.

The hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline crossing their territory and efforts by the B.C. government to negotiate an agreement to end the protests have failed.

Their fight has sparked a protest movement that spans from the B.C. legislature in Victoria to the ports in Vancouver to rail lines in Ontario and Quebec.

Meantime, several people arrested at various remote locations in northwest B.C. near construction zones for the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline were due in court Monday.

“All of the 14 people have refused to sign their undertakings because they are following Wet’suwet’en law,” Wet’suwet’en spokeswoman Jen Wickham said in a phone interview from Houston. “They’ve all been charged with breach of the injunction.”

The RCMP said Saturday that officers enforcing a court injunction arrested 11 people who allegedly barricaded themselves in a warming centre near a pipeline work site. The other arrests occurred Friday at another Indigenous camp near the pipeline route.

Premier John Horgan said the pipeline, which is part of the massive $40-billion LNG Canada export terminal project, is of vital economic and social importance to the province’s north and already has the approval of 20 elected First Nations councils along the route from Dawson Creek to Kitimat.

Supporters blocked access to Victoria’s downtown Johnson Street bridge Saturday and dozens of Indigenous youth have set up a camp on the front steps of the legislature.

Before the court injunction was served, Vancouver Wet’suwet’en protest organizer Natalie Knight said dozens of people were picketing in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en chiefs and to send a message to the government and business community.

“We recognize the importance of disrupting capital, disrupting money and goods that come out of the city of Vancouver, that are coming from up north or going up north or that are being sent around the world,” said Knight. “This sends a very clear message to business and the government that we are not going to allow business to continue as usual.”

At the legislature, Wet’suwet’en supporter Kolin Sutherland-Wilson said people intend to camp out while the RCMP remains in Wet’suwet’en territory.

The group lit a ceremonial fire in a steel pit and are sleeping at the entrance reserved for dignitaries. The legislature is set to resume sitting Tuesday.

The Canadian Press

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