Saanich Coun. Nathalie Chambers (second from left), Metchosin Coun. Andy MacKinnon (third from left) and other local politicians went to the Fairy Creek blockades this week on a fact-finding mission. (Photo courtesy Nathalie Chambers)

Saanich Coun. Nathalie Chambers (second from left), Metchosin Coun. Andy MacKinnon (third from left) and other local politicians went to the Fairy Creek blockades this week on a fact-finding mission. (Photo courtesy Nathalie Chambers)

Greater Victoria councillors visit Fairy Creek blockades, none were arrested

Elected officals were allowed to enter the exclusion zone, along with journalists

The total arrests at the Fairy Creek blockades topped 185 by Monday when at least 11 people were taken into custody.

Nine were arrested for breaching the injunction and two for obstruction.

Among the crowd that day were Saanich Coun. Nathalie Chambers, Metchosin Coun. Andy MacKinnon and Gary Holman, the Salt Spring Island electoral area director for the Capital Regional District.

Chambers learned that elected officials were permitted to enter exclusion zones, similar to journalists. She travelled to the blockade north of Port Renfrew on June 7 to see what was going on.

“We were independent of council, but went in our role as elected officials to represent the support from our constituents to end old-growth logging,” she said.

“I tried to get arrested, I said please arrest me, but the good officers would not arrest me,” Chambers told Black Press Media.

“Clearly the RCMP did not want to arrest a municipal councillor, but it was fun to watch her try. She’s a troublemaker but a delightful one,” said MacKinnon. He described their visit as an information gathering trip. Several municipalities in Greater Victoria have passed resolutions calling on the province to change the way it manages old-growth forests.

READ MORE: First Nations tell B.C. to pause old growth logging on southwest Vancouver Island

“We’ve gotten to this point by an abdication of leadership by the provincial government,” he said. “You have people that I think have a lot of common ground among them – protesters, the Pacheedaht, loggers and RCMP – essentially being pitted against each other. I think with a little bit of leadership from the provincial government we would not be seeing this.”

MacKinnon wants the NDP to implement the recommendations from the old-growth strategic review panel, which they committed to last fall, but he said have been delayed.

“I think that’s why these people are so frustrated, that they think they have no option but to camp out in the rain and chain themselves to chunks of concrete,” he said. “People don’t do that for fun. This is not a first resort. And from my conversations there, the RCMP would rather be elsewhere too.”

READ MORE: Solidarity builds for Indigenous claims over Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island

Chambers supports the blockades, saying, “I see this as the beginning of settling the outstanding financial debt living on unceded territories. We need to pay for those trees to be standing through conservation covenants and other things. It’s about ensuring ongoing revenue for Pacheedaht.”

Three nations in whose territory the Tree Farm Licence 46 resides released a statement Monday demanding a two-year deferral on old-growth logging. Teal-Jones agreed to stop logging old growth and start discussions with the First Nations and the provincial government, in their first official statement on logging in the area. The company stated they acknowledge the First Nations’ authority and would enter into discussions.

But the deferrals aren’t enough for the protesters, who are still demanding more comprehensive forest protections.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island First Nations declaration not enough for old-growth protesters


Do you have a story tip? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.

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Fairy Creek watershedMetchosinSaanichWest Shore

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