Demonstrators block Swartz Bay BC Ferries terminal

Ferry blockade ends

UPDATE: 1 p.m.

BC Ferries says demonstrators opposed to a liquefied natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia ended a protest today that tied up traffic at a terminal near Victoria.

Deborah Marshall of BC Ferries says a blockade at the gates of the Swartz Bay terminal was lifted just before 9 a.m. allowing traffic to begin loading onto vessels.

On social media, protesters said they were demonstrating against construction of the LNG pipeline from the Dawson Creek area to Kitimat and demanding respect for Wet'suwet'en territory.

Marshall says BC Ferries respects the rights of individuals to protest but the company's concern is for customers having "safe and uninterrupted access to our terminals."

She says RCMP officers were at the terminal, spoke with protesters and "worked through the situation."

The BC Ferries website showed the first sailing of the day from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen on the mainland departed just after 9:30 a.m. The first sailing from the mainland docked more than an hour behind schedule.

ORIGINAL: 8:35 a.m.

Ongoing tension over the construction of a liquefied natural gas pipeline across northwestern British Columbia has prompted a demonstration near a ferry terminal north of Victoria, affecting BC Ferries sailings to and from Vancouver Island.

BC Ferries says all vessels to or from Swartz Bay are on hold until further notice because demonstrators have blocked highway access to the Swartz Bay terminal, affecting every sailing from the facility.

A notice issued early this morning by a group that does not identify itself says protesters are blockading the highway leading to the terminal and are also using kayaks to ensure the ferry to the mainland cannot leave its berth and incoming ferries cannot dock.

The notice says protesters "demand respect for Wet'suwet'en sovereignty" and oppose the threat of what they call "a violent RCMP invasion."

Coastal GasLink is building a 670-kilometre pipeline from B.C.'s northeast to Kitimat but hereditary Wet'suwet'en chiefs say they have issued an eviction notice to stop the work, although a B.C. Supreme Court injunction prevents interference with pipeline operations.

The protesters' message says BC Ferries has been targeted because of its "deepening integration with the Liquefied Natural Gas industry."

"We emphasize that provincial infrastructure cannot be built or maintained through the colonization and destruction of the territories and waters that the Wet'suwet'en have governed since time immemorial," the emailed statement says.

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