The BC RCMP has established a temporary access control area in the Fairy Creek Watershed in response to a BC Supreme Court order granting an injunction to Teal-Cedar Products Ltd.
The purpose of the access control area, according to BC RCMP, is to prevent a further escalation of efforts to block access contrary to the Supreme Court order and to “allow the RCMP to be accountable for the safety of all persons accessing this area given the remoteness and road conditions.”
RCMP says that planning for enforcement has been ongoing since the Court’s order was granted on April 1, 2021.
Police say that during the enforcement planning process, officers have taken into account the remote location of the Fairy Creek Watershed in order to ensure enough police officers are present in the area to keep the peace. Due to the unpredictable nature of the area at the moment, RCMP say that additional resources are being deployed to provide support.
“The primary concerns of the police are public safety, police officer safety, and preservation of the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest, within the terms set by the Supreme Court in the injunction,” reads a statement from BC RCMP.
“As of Monday, May 17, 2021, a temporary access control area has been established as the RCMP begins enforcement of the civil injunction. This will limit access only for the period of time required to secure access for Teal-Cedar Products to commence their operations. Once the operations are complete, the temporary access control area will be removed.”
The checkpoint procedures that are being followed as of May 17, according to BC RCMP, include:
- Vehicles attempting to enter the access control area will be stopped, occupants will be provided with a copy of the injunction order and, unless they meet the below noted criteria, will not be permitted into the area.
- Occupants requesting entry will be required to state their purpose and provide identification. Permission to enter must come from the RCMP Operations Commander or delegate. Persons permitted would generally include:
- All Hereditary and Elected Chiefs of the Pacheedaht and/or Ditidaht Nations;
- Elected and other Government Officials;
- Journalists from recognized media outlets. These persons will be accompanied by representatives from BC RCMP Communication Services. Reasonable efforts will be made to provide recognized media outlets access to the enforcement area;
- Lawyers recognized as practicing members of the Law Society of British Columbia, having a valid Law Society card with an identification number;
- Medical Doctors registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, having a valid Registrant card with an identification number;
- Other persons as approved by the RCMP Operations Commander or delegate.
- Any person permitted into the access control area must be accompanied by a police officer unless authorized to enter alone by the RCMP Operations Commander or delegate.
- A designated space for protesters and other observers will be set up within the injunction area but outside the access control area. This space will be suitably located to allow for peaceful, lawful and safe protest and be visible to employees of Teal-Cedar Products, their contractors, the police and media.
- Persons found committing acts that breach the injunction order or who are believed to have breached the injunction order, as well as persons refusing to leave the access control area, will be arrested.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and work with all stakeholders to provide assistance as necessary in maintaining peace and keeping everyone safe,” reads a statement.
But even as RCMP moved in Monday, protesters were digging in for a fight in Vancouver Island’s wilderness.
Members of the protestor group, the Rainforest Flying Squad, have reached out to their community in hopes of getting more bodies on site following the news of the BC RCMP was establishing a temporary access control area.
“The RCMP are fanning the flames of this crisis that we’re in right now. They’ve set up a roadblock to prevent regular citizens, regular people from accessing public roads,” said activist Shawna Knight.
It’s the first time RCMP have moved on Teal Jones’ injunction request, limiting access to the Fairy Creek watershed where activists in camps have been blocking loggers since August 2020.
Protesters have also largely disregarded the Pacheedaht First Nation’s Hereditary Chief and Elected Chief’s calls to leave the area.
But they say the roadblocks are about restricting freedoms.
“[I’m] upset that they have rushed in with aggressive measures to try to limit the amount of public exposure,” said activist Shambu.
It’s why RCMP are inviting the media to witness the RCMP action when officers move in on the camps at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. According to RCMP they plan to first ask activists to leave, then demand it.
“Legal observers and media that are there who do not get involved or are not getting in the way are more than welcome,” said Cpl. Chris Manseau of BC RCMP.
Updates on the enforced area in the Fairy Creek Watershed can be found on the BC RCMP website.