New tactics on display as B.C.’s old-growth logging dispute heats up

Click to play video: 'War in the Woods continues to escalate near Fairy Creek'
War in the Woods continues to escalate near Fairy Creek
WATCH: Police and protesters are putting new tactics into play at the protest camps and exclusion site near logging operations at Fairy Creek on southern Vancouver Island. Paul Johnson reports – May 27, 2021

Protesters and police have both stepped up their tactics on the front lines of B.C.’s latest “war in the woods.”

More than 130 people have been arrested so far at blockades aimed at preventing old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek watershed on Southern Vancouver Island.

On Wednesday, a group of more than 100 protesters, many of them seniors, defied an RCMP “exclusion zone” surrounding the area where Teal Jones crews are actively logging.

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Others used a technique they called the “sleeping dragon,” which involved using concrete to cement their arms into the logging road and block traffic.

Police used a jackhammer to remove them.

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A growing flashpoint at the site of the protests has been between police and the media.

The RCMP insists it has the right to control reporters’ access to the area inside the so-called exclusion zone, with officers on scene citing “safety” — though Global News was refused access to one site, there were no apparent safety risks.

Click to play video: 'RCMP prohibit news media from Fairy Creek exclusion zone'
RCMP prohibit news media from Fairy Creek exclusion zone

That controlled access has prompted a planned legal challenge by the Canadian Association of Journalists.

“Over the past week, we’ve repeatedly seen the RCMP shift the goal posts on how it plans to allow journalists access in order to cover this important public interest story,” said Brent Jolly, CAJ president.

“Every day is a new day with new excuses from the RCMP about why access is limited. Enough is enough.”

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The RCMP began enforcement of a B.C. Supreme Court injunction began last week to allow workers with the Teal-Jones Group to resume logging the watershed near Port Renfrew.

Read more: British Columbia’s ‘war in the woods’ is flaring up again

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The company holds a valid licence for the area, and plans to harvest about 20 of 200 available hectares from the 1,200 hectare watershed.

Teal-Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

Last month, two chiefs with the Pacheedaht First Nation, whose territory included the watershed, said they did not support the unsolicited involvement of third-party activists in the area.

Activists say the Fairy Creek area is among the last of B.C.’s unprotected areas of old-growth forest.

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