Ferries cancelled as protesters blockade Swartz Bay terminal
VICTORIA -- Protesters blockaded the Swartz Bay ferry terminal Monday morning, preventing several BC Ferries vessels from entering and leaving the port.
The group was protesting in support of those Wet’suwet'en First Nations members who oppose construction of a natural gas pipeline in northern B.C.
Traffic at the terminal was at a standstill for much of the morning and anyone planning to take a ferry from Swartz Bay should check the status of their sailing.
The 7 a.m. sailing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay left 70 minutes behind schedule and the 9 a.m. sailing was cancelled. Three other ferries were being held at Pender Island, Mayne Island and Swartz Bay.
RCMP Cpl. Chris Manseau said Monday police are “are asking the public to be patient.”
Centra Saanich police are asking the public to avoid the area until further notice.
The activists said in a statement they are blockading the BC Ferries terminal out of support for the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet'en and due to BC Ferries' ties with the liquefied natural gas industry.
Coastal GasLink signed agreements with several First Nation councils along the pipeline's path, but the hereditary clan chiefs who are leaders under the traditional form of governance say the project doesn't have authority to go ahead without their consent.
“Specifically we chose this spot because the BC Ferries run on LNG gas and the heart of the issue is that the Coastal Gaslink started development and they’re attempting to put a pipeline without the consent of the rightful decision makers: the Wet’suwet'en hereditary chiefs," said protester Colin Sutherland Wilson.
By 8:30 a.m. protesters were beginning to leave the area and BC Ferries said service would resume shortly for the Mayne Queen leaving Otter Bay, the Queen of Cumberland leaving Swartz Bay and the Salish Raven leaving Village Bay.
Traffic began flowing to the terminal just before 9 a.m. but all departing vessels will be delayed until the traffic on the highway has cleared.