Protesters on 4-day climate march unable to walk through Massey Tunnel

4-day climate march

Demonstrators calling on the B.C. government to take urgent action on the climate emergency passed through Richmond this morning on their way to Victoria – but weren’t able to walk through the Massey Tunnel as planned.

Members of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver instead boarded a bus at Bridgeport Canada Line station, chartered by the City of Richmond, to take them through the city and tunnel to Delta to continue their journey on foot, titled “Walk for Mother Earth.”

Richmond RCMP informed the group on Friday that they wouldn’t be able to walk through the tunnel, according to a spokesperson for the group, which had planned to block one lane of traffic as they went through. The city instead offered to provide “a hydrogen-powered bus.”

While having to take the bus was a “thwarting of (the group’s) plan,” said Quetzo Herejk, who is taking part in the walk, it was good to have the city’s support.

“Here we are in Delta, and in Richmond as well – these communities are facing massive impacts from the climate emergency, so we perceive it as a way in which they’re supporting our cause.

“Municipalities are also strong-armed by the provincial government, and are in many ways thwarted about what they might want to be doing in terms of a just transformation or green futures for their constituents.”

The Richmond News has reached out to Richmond RCMP and the city for more information.

Members of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver — whose aim is to cause peaceful disruption to force governments to take action against tipping points in the climate system — began their four-day march from Vancouver to Victoria on Friday morning.

On Friday, the group walked from the Olympic Flame in downtown Vancouver, down Granville Street and over the Granville Street Bridge, then east to Wolfe and Oak Streets down to Marine Drive Canada Line station. They then made their way into Richmond over the pedestrian bridge and walked along River Road to Shell Road, and then took the Shell Road Trail to Steveston Highway before dispersing for the day.

Protestors are wearing masks and physically distancing while they walk.

The group reconvened at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday at the Bridgeport Canada Line Station, before boarding the bus chartered by the city to take them through the Massey Tunnel.

Once dropped off on the Delta side, the group will walk to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal where they will end for the day.

The group plans to end its march in Victoria on Monday, where they will nail their proposed “Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill” to the doors of the B.C. legislature.

Outlined in the bill are four action points, said Herejk, including helping industries transform their practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit extractions; forming a citizens’ assembly to help tackle climate change, as well as racism and the opioid crisis; laying out the facts of climate change and taking immediate action to fight it.

“Part of ‘act now,’ means your behaviour needs to line up with your commitments,” Herejk said, speaking of the B.C. government.

“So that’s why we’re on this walk right now to Victoria – there’s this sort of gas-lighting happening. Out of one side of their mouth they’re saying, we’re committed, we’re going to have a green future…and out the other, they’re sort of pouring fuel into our backyard and lighting it on fire.”

She added that the B.C. government needs to stick to its commitment of reducing greenhouse gases.

“(That) has to happen much quicker than I think any of the governments in Canada are currently lining up with.”

When asked about current travel advisories against non-essential travel, Herejk said that “unfortunately the government has made this essential travel.”

“I would like to be able to adhere to those orders. However, the government is, on the one hand saying stay home, stay in your neighbourhood because of this pandemic, but they’re committing us to a situation called climate collapse… the government’s failure to protect us (from that) has made this essential.”

Extinction Rebellion Vancouver is also planning a week of disruptive action starting May 1 in Vancouver, where they plan to block streets and bridges.

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