Protesters opposing old-growth logging on Vancouver Island are accusing a logging company and the RCMP of underhanded tactics at the site of long-running blockades near Port Renfrew.
Protest group The Rainforest Flying Squad claims that tow trucks have illegally removed more than 40 vehicles from the area, and were impounded — with a cost of $2,500 for their return.
The group is now taking logging company Teal-Jones to court over the issue.
“By all means, if these vehicles were blocking roads then they’ve got a right to tow the and try to get damages for them,” lawyer Noah Ross told Global News.
“But the vehicles that my clients that we’re proceeding to court on weren’t blocking the roads and I guess we’re in court because of that disagreement.”
Protesters say in addition to being illegal, the towing and impound fees they are being charged are punitive.
“$2,500 is a lot of money for anyone to pay — and honestly, the car probably isn’t even worth that much,” said a demonstrator who identified himself as Bozosapien.
Teal-Jones defended the fees to Global News, saying removing vehicles from the site of the Fairy Creek blockade was not the same as towing a car in the city.
“The cost of retrieving vehicles reflects the expense of towing vehicles out of a remote area, storage and security and the damage done to Teal-Jones,” the company said in a statement.
It comes as a B.C. Supreme Court judge hears arguments on whether or not to extend an injunction against demonstrators trying to block Teal-Jones from logging its timber licence in the area.
The company has applied for a one-year extension to the injunction, which is currently set to expire on Sept. 26.
On Thursday, Justice Douglas Thompson said he would consider new options to address the future of the injunction, and expressed concern about conflict between police and protesters at the site since Mounties began enforcing the order in May.
“Perhaps, the only thing everybody agrees upon right now is what’s being done is not working,” said Thompson, who instructed lawyers to come to court Friday prepared to discuss the structure of the injunction.
About 1,000 people have been arrested at the site so far.
— with files from the Canadian Press