Three protesters at a construction site for the Site C dam near Fort St. John in northern B.C. have been arrested for blocking vehicles from entering the work site, RCMP said late Wednesday in a statement.

Cpl. Dave Tyreman said RCMP received a report of protesters blocking the roadway shortly after 10 a.m. PT. When officers arrived, he said, they found a man and woman blocking vehicles.

"Both parties were requested by police to move to the side of the road," said Tyreman. "When the man refused, he was advised by police that he was committing a criminal offence by not moving and advised to move."

Tyreman said the man was arrested for mischief and escorted to the RCMP detachment.

He said more protesters arrived at noon and were also asked to move aside, but two of them refused and were arrested.

The RCMP says it "respects the right to democratic and lawful protest," but also have a responsibility to enforce the criminal code.

Protests escalating

A small number of Indigenous protesters have been trying since late December to halt Site C  by occupying land near the construction site. Construction on the $9 billion dollar project has been underway for four months.

Confrontation at the work site has been building.

In a video exchange dated Jan. 2 and posted on social media, First Nations protesters speak on a snowy bridge with a man who identifies himself as a construction site security guard. The man tells them they have to leave "the active work site."  The women notify him he is "trespassing" on Treaty 8 land. 

The Site C dam project will flood a valley 77 kilometres long. It's long been controversial in the region and is fiercely opposed in some quarters. Until now, non-indigenous ranchers were at the forefront of anti-Site C activism.