The Victoria Police Department has announced that it will be controlling access to the James Bay area in preparation for planned protests expected to hit the Capital Region next week.
The announcement came from VicPD on Saturday, with the department outlining that vehicle access to the area will be limited to local vehicles only.
Police say that controlled access points will come into effect immediately, on Saturday, March 19.
Along with local traffic, BC Transit operators will also be able to access the area on usual routes.
“VicPD supports every Canadian’s right to safe, peaceful and lawful protest. Persons wishing to participate in protest are welcome to enter the area on foot, by bicycle or via B.C. Transit,” reads a statement from VicPD. “Those with mobility concerns are asked to identify themselves to an officer at one of the access points so we can assist.”
Victoria Police has not set a timeline for how long the controlled access points will remain in effect, stating they will last “as long as required to ensure public safety.”
The department has opted for the controlled access points to the James Bay area due to residents’ concerns about expected upcoming “slow-roll” blockades and protests.
In the last eight weeks, the area has also been subject to ongoing protests that incorporate the use of blockades and horns — including modified air train and ship horns — which has impacted residents and businesses in James Bay and the B.C. Legislature area.
“This escalation, and the impact of eight weeks of continuous protest on residents and businesses in James Bay and the B.C. Legislature area requires VicPD to increase our response to ensure we are able to keep people safe and continue to facilitate a safe, peaceful and lawful protest environment,” reads a statement from VicPD.
Victoria Police is emphasizing that although safe, peaceful and lawful protests are allowed, occupation of an area is not.
“Dangerous and/or unlawful activity will continue to be met with de-escalation and enforcement,” cautions the department.
In addition to the controlled access, VicPD will be deploying temporary, monitored CCTV cameras in the area of the B.C. Legislature to monitor activity.
Any questions or concerns about the road closures or CCTV camera deployment can be directed to [email protected].