VICTORIA, CTV NEWS — Mounties have established a restricted-access zone as they begin enforcing an injunction against protesters who are blockading logging activity in the Fairy Creek watershed on southwest Vancouver Island.
The B.C. Supreme Court granted the injunction to forestry company Teal-Jones on April 1. Protesters have been blocking logging roads in the watershed near Port Renfrew since last summer in an effort to protect old-growth forests.
The B.C. RCMP said in a statement Monday that it has been planning its enforcement of the injunction since the order was granted last month. As of Monday, access to the area will be restricted while Teal-Jones begins its logging operations.
“During the planning process, the RCMP took the remote location of the Fairy Creek Watershed area into account and ensured that enough police officers are present in the area to keep the peace,” the RCMP said.
“We also took into consideration the unpredictable nature of what we could face in the remote area, and so we are deploying additional police resources with specialized skills to provide support,” police added.
The Mounties have established a checkpoint at the McClure Forest Service Road, where the restricted-access zone begins.
The police say all vehicles attempting to enter the area will be stopped and occupants will need to provide identification and state the purpose for their travel, subject to RCMP approval.
All hereditary and elected chiefs of the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations will be allowed to enter the area, according to the RCMP. So too will government officials, journalists, practising lawyers with the Law Society of British Columbia and medical doctors. All visitors will be accompanied through the site by an RCMP officer.
The Mounties say a designated space for protesters and observers will be established outside the restricted 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,” the RCMP said. “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.”
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