Victoria Earth Day protest shuts down Douglas Street
A pair of environmental groups held an Earth Day protest that shut down part of Douglas Street in downtown Victoria Monday.
The groups Rise and Resist and Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island held what they called a "theatrical street procession" to call on banks to divest from fossil fuels.
The procession began on Yates Street at noon and visited branches of five major Canadian banks as protesters called on them and customers to divest. The procession ended outside the RBC Bank on Douglas Street.
"CIBC, TD, RBC, BMO and Scotiabank have collectively put over $338-billion into fossil fuel development since 2016," organizer Antonia Paquin said in a statement.
Paquin told CTV News on Monday the rally was intended to persuade people to switch their accounts to local credit unions, which she says are more supportive of renewable resources.
The rally also attempted to persuade banks to change how they invest. "We want to see these mega banks withdraw their investments from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in renewable solutions," Paquin said.
"We join a growing movement of people who are choosing to move their money from banks into credit unions that aren’t investing in fossil fuels, with the understanding that this will put pressure on major Canadian banks to also divest away from destructive resource extraction, and instead into clean energy infrastructure, sustainable jobs and a livable climate future."
The procession, comprised of between 75 and 100 people, featured a "Rebel Earth Goddess" parade float as its centrepiece.
The group said it would make a "surprise announcement" when the protest concluded at Royal Bank on Douglas Street at 1 p.m.
Extinction Rebellion has also been at the centre of a massive climate change protest in London, England, shutting down major roads as protesters demand a sharp decline in carbon use.
Police have arrested more than 1,000 of those protesters and charged only 53 with criminal offences.
Monday's rally in Victoria was peaceful. Rob Duncan was one of those involved in the rally. He says he wishes more people had come out to demonstrate against investing in fossil fuels.
"We should be filling the streets today. There should be thousands and thousands," he said.
The procession ended at the corner of Fort and Douglas streets. That's where traffic was briefly stopped by police, and where multiple people tore up their credit cards from major banks in protest. It's also where a mock bank CEO arrived by way of limousine to field questions from activists.
Also on Earth Day, Premier John Horgan and Environment Minister George Heyman issued a statement for Earth Day, touting the government's "commitment to rise to the challenge of climate change and protect our shared environment now, and for future generations."
Horgan and Heyman also pointed to the recently released Clean BC plan, which includes the ambitious goal of making all new light-duty vehicle sales zero emissions by 2040.