B.C. Ferries has actually won a court injunction to keep protesters from interrupting sailings this Family Day weekend and beyond.

The order issued by B.C. Supreme Court on Friday bars people from obstructing access to transport terminals by land or water. No one is allowed to block or hinder the “proper functioning” of B.C. Ferries, Justice Brian MacKenzie bought.

That includes blocking access to the terminals, interfering with or covering closed-circuit television video cameras on or near the ferries, or physically obstructing B.C. Ferries employees or members of the general public from going into terminals and associated buildings, according to the order.

RCMP are authorized to apprehend and eliminate anyone contravening the order.

Social-media posts suggested demonstrations could go back to Swartz Bay terminal on Saturday, B.C. Ferries stated in its notification of application. The company “also has issues for its other terminals due to posts on social networks requiring protesters to close down the B.C. federal government,” states the notification.

On Jan. 20, protesters supporting Wet’ suwet’ en chiefs who oppose an LNG pipeline in northern B.C. established a blockade on the highway resulting in Swartz Bay, avoiding vehicles from reaching the terminal.

As well, protesters in four kayaks remained in the water in or near the terminal to obstruct vessels from getting here and leaving, B.C. Ferries stated.

As a result of the January demonstration, one ferry sailing was postponed by 70 minutes and another was cancelled, the application stated.

The protest also affected sailings from Salt Spring Island and other Gulf Islands to Swartz Bay, and led to “considerable” traffic backups on Highway 17, inconveniencing lots of tourists, who went through lengthy delays, the company stated.

Protesters likewise staged a demonstration at Alert Bay near the ferry terminal on Feb. 9.

Considering that Family Day weekend is generally hectic, bring in high volumes of traffic, blockades at ferry terminals would cause “major and considerable disruption to travelling members of the general public,” B.C. Ferries said.

The corporation kept in mind in its notification of application that ferryboats from the Swartz Bay this weekend are expected to include about 33 critical medical transfers for clients who lack the required medical facility in their neighborhoods– primarily from the Southern Gulf Islands, where medical centers are restricted.

The January ferry interruption cost B.C. Ferries $50,000 to $70,000, the company stated in its notice, adding comparable losses are likely if blockades are set up again.

B.C. Ferries is producing presentation zones at each of its terminals that would enable protesters to be extremely noticeable and express their views. Those zones would not obstruct access to terminals or impede traffic, the business said.

B.C. Ferries says it has added more than 20 extra sailings between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for the Household Day weekend.


© Copyright Times Colonist

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Marco Bitran
Husband and father of two children under age 5, Marco also enjoys walks in nature, squash, running road races, and photography. He regularly contributes significant time and resources to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the MSPCA and other animal rights organizations, and the Bitran Charitable Foundation. Marco has also volunteered and consulted for public housing support organizations such as the Somerville Homeless Coalition, created by the local community’s grassroots response to the social crisis of homelessness.