Demonstrators calling on the B.C. government to take urgent action on the climate emergency passed through Richmond this morning on their way to Victoria – but weren’t able to walk through the Massey Tunnel as planned.
Members of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver instead boarded a bus at Bridgeport Canada Line station, chartered by the City of Richmond, to take them through the city and tunnel to Delta to continue their journey on foot, titled “Walk for Mother Earth.”
Police informed the group on Friday that they wouldn’t be able to walk through the tunnel, according to a spokesperson for the group, which had planned to block one lane of traffic as they went through. The spokesperson said the city instead offered to provide “a hydrogen-powered bus.”
However, Clay Adams, spokesperson for the City of Richmond, said the bus was actually provided by Coast Mountain Bus Company, a subsidiary of TransLink.
“They didn’t want anything that was going to disrupt flow through the tunnel for safety reasons, so hence they offered them a bus,” Adams said.
The Richmond News has also reached out to Richmond RCMP for more information.
While having to take the bus was a “thwarting of (the group’s) plan,” said Quetzo Herejk, who is taking part in the walk, the goal of the walk is to draw attention to the climate emergency and government inaction.
She added that Richmond and Delta are also “facing massive impacts from the climate emergency.”
“Municipalities are also strong-armed by the provincial government, and are in many ways thwarted about what they might want to be doing in terms of a just transformation or green futures for their constituents.”
Members of Extinction Rebellion Vancouver — whose aim is to cause peaceful disruption to force governments to take action against tipping points in the climate system — began their four-day march from Vancouver to Victoria on Friday morning.
On Friday, the group walked from the Olympic Flame in downtown Vancouver, down Granville Street and over the Granville Street Bridge, then east to Wolfe and Oak Streets down to Marine Drive Canada Line station. They then made their way into Richmond over the pedestrian bridge and walked along River Road to Shell Road, and then took the Shell Road Trail to Steveston Highway before dispersing for the day.
Protestors are wearing masks and physically distancing while they walk.
The group reconvened at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday at the Bridgeport Canada Line Station, before boarding the bus to take them through the Massey Tunnel.
Once dropped off on the Delta side, the group will walk to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal where they will end for the day.
The group plans to end its march in Victoria on Monday, where they will nail their proposed “Declaration of Rebellion Against the Government for Inaction on the Climate and Ecological Emergency” to the doors of the B.C. legislature. The group has also drafted a proposed law, titled the “Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.”
Outlined in the declaration are four action points, said Herejk, including “just transformation,” meaning to help industries transform their practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit extractions; “to tell the truth about climate change and the grim reality we're facing;” to form a citizen's assembly to help lead decisions on climate change and ecological justice going forward; and to act now on the facts of climate change.
“Part of ‘act now,’ means your behaviour needs to line up with your commitments,” Herejk said, speaking of the B.C. government.
“So that’s why we’re on this walk right now to Victoria – there’s this sort of gas-lighting happening. Out of one side of their mouth they’re saying, we’re committed, we’re going to have a green future…and out the other, they’re sort of pouring fuel into our backyard and lighting it on fire.”
She added that the B.C. government needs to stick to its commitment of reducing greenhouse gases.
“(That) has to happen much quicker than I think any of the governments in Canada are currently lining up with.”
When asked about current travel advisories against non-essential travel, Herejk said that “unfortunately the government has made this essential travel.”
“I would like to be able to adhere to those orders. However, the government is, on the one hand saying stay home, stay in your neighbourhood because of this pandemic, but they’re committing us to a situation called climate collapse… the government’s failure to protect us (from that) has made this essential.”
Extinction Rebellion Vancouver is also planning a week of disruptive action starting May 1 in Vancouver, where they plan to block streets and bridges.