Advertisement
Canada

Climate change activists block bridges, cause traffic chaos across Canada

Toronto Extinction Rebellion protests shut down Bloor Viaduct, calling for climate action.

Across the country, traffic was snarled early Monday morning by activists taking part in a global climate protest.

The group heading the movement, known as Extinction Rebellion or “XR,” is seeking to draw attention to what they say is the “climate emergency.”

On Monday, XR protesters targeted and blocked 60 bridges across the globe for a campaign they have called #BridgeOut.

Similar protests are taking place in London, Germany, Austria, Spain, New Zealand, The Netherlands and Australia.

READ MORE: Hundreds of arrests as climate change protesters block streets around world

In an open letter, the Vancouver faction of XR said it does not want to “cause disruption to people going about their everyday lives,” but that the group sees “no other choice.”

“The Canadian government is failing to act on the climate crisis and to protect its citizens,” the letter reads.

Story continues below advertisement

Protesters are calling on the government to “tell the truth” about climate change, act immediately and defer to decisions of a “citizens’ assembly” on climate and ecological justice.

READ MORE: What is Extinction Rebellion and what does it want?

They are also demanding that Canada and the provinces implement policies that will reduce the country’s carbon emissions to net zero in six years’ time.

They say they will continue the rebellion until their demands are met.

Here’s a look at what’s happening across the country.

Halifax

The Angus L. MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, which links the city with Dartmouth, was closed to vehicles, pedestrians and bikes early Monday morning as XR protesters arrived.

Eighteen people were arrested under the Protection of Property Act — they were fined $237.50. 

Story continues below advertisement

Halifax police Const. John MacLeod told Global News that less than 100 protesters had gathered at the bridge.

The protesters marched down to the bridge toll plaza waving flags and signs before congregating in an area near the tolls as police cruisers blocked traffic on routes leading to the bridge.

Members of Extinction Rebellion, protesting issues related to climate change, march to the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.
Members of Extinction Rebellion, protesting issues related to climate change, march to the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

READ MORE: Climate activists plan to shut down Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge all day Monday

Story continues below advertisement

According to a tweet from Halifax Harbour Bridges, the Macdonald Bridge, including the sidewalk and bike lane, was reopened just after 12 p.m.

Toronto

In Toronto, activists gathered near Danforth and Cambridge Avenue before making their way to the Bloor Viaduct bridge.

READ MORE: Climate change activists, demonstration takes over Bloor Viaduct in Toronto

The activists have reportedly planned to sit-in for most of the morning.

Extinction Rebellion’s Toronto chapter shuts down the Bloor Street Viaduct bridge in a climate change demonstration on Monday.
Extinction Rebellion’s Toronto chapter shuts down the Bloor Street Viaduct bridge in a climate change demonstration on Monday. Doug Gamey / Global News

The group has also planned demonstrations at Playter Gardens Park.

Story continues below advertisement
Extinction Rebellion protesters arrested in Toronto
Extinction Rebellion protesters arrested in Toronto

Hours into the protest, a number of activists were arrested.

Edmonton

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, XR activists blocked the Walterdale Bridge early Monday morning.

Demonstrators began to gather at the bridge in the North Saskatchewan River valley by 6 a.m., Global News observed, and just before 7 a.m. they walked out on to the road.

Police eventually blocked off the top of Walterdale Hill and redirected traffic.

Thirty minutes later the blockade was cleared and traffic began flowing freely.

Story continues below advertisement

Activists with the Extinction Rebellion movement blocking the Walterdale Bridge into downtown Edmonton Monday morning as part of international protests demanding new climate policies. Monday, October 7, 2019.

READ MORE: Climate change activists, drivers clash at Walterdale Bridge blockade Monday morning in Edmonton

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney criticized the protest on Twitter, saying the protesters were “delaying commute for hundreds in Edmonton trying to get to work & take kids to school.”

“Somehow this is all supposed to be in the name of the environment,” he wrote. “But hundreds of cares are now idling unnecessarily as they wait backed up.”

Story continues below advertisement

Vancouver

In Vancouver, police warned commuters to “plan accordingly,” as activists prepared to shut down the Burrard Bridge at 8:30 a.m.

“We are expecting the Burrard Bridge to remain closed during this afternoon’s commute,” Vancouver police said in a tweet. “We are working with them to minimize further traffic disruptions while maintaining public safety.”

Protesters with the group Extinction Rebellion occupy the Burrard Bridge, closing it to vehicle traffic going into and out of downtown Vancouver, on Monday October 7, 2019.
Protesters with the group Extinction Rebellion occupy the Burrard Bridge, closing it to vehicle traffic going into and out of downtown Vancouver, on Monday October 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Shortly after 9 a.m., activists holding signs and umbrellas began walking across the bridge, chanting “climate action.”

Story continues below advertisement

-With files from Simon Little, Oriena Vuong, Karen Bartko, Graeme Benjamin, and Jesse Thomas