British Columbia

Province asked to step in after 2 years of protest in B.C. Interior community

Kamloops North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar has met with B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in hopes the provincial government will find a way to address concerns about the protest group and its impact on nearby residents and businesses.

Anti-pipeline protests in Blue River, B.C., are disrupting the community, MLA says

Campground employee Brittney McNabb took this photo from the Blue River campground, across the street from the Tiny House Warriors camp. (Brittney McNabb)

Local officials are asking the province to step in amid ongoing protests that are disrupting the small community of Blue River, B.C., located about 230 kilometres north of Kamloops in B.C's central Interior. 

Kamloops North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar said he met with B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in hopes the provincial government will find a way to address concerns about the protest group and its impact on nearby residents and businesses.

"It's been two years of a whole lot of noise and frustration for the local community," he said.

"I do not think they're being unreasonable saying either get some discussions going on with this group to see if there's anything that can be done that will appease them or move them along, one way or the other, because it cannot just continue the way it has been indefinitely."

The Tiny House Warriors, a group opposed to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, set up a village in 2018 on a piece of unceded Secwepemc territory near Blue River.

Their goal is to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from crossing Secwepemc territory and one of the group's actions has been setting up tiny houses and camps along the pipeline route.

It's unclear how many protesters are occupying the camp at any given time, as community members say people come and go.

Resident Michael Nesterski, who operates a campground 20 metres away from the protest camp, said his customers have been verbally "attacked" by the protesters, causing them to pack up and leave. 

"In a democracy there is always a right to protest," Nesterski said. "But I don't know if you have a right to block off a road for a few years and to be on the megaphone and to [shout hateful things]. I think that's a different thing."

"It's very vulgar and [the leader] will attack anybody. It doesn't matter."

CBC called Tiny House Warriors leader Kanahus Manuel to request an interview, but she declined.

B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said that while his job is to ensure that an effective level of policing is maintained, enforcement decisions and individual investigations are made at "arm's length from government."

"We cannot interfere with or direct police on such matters," Farnworth said in a statement to CBC. 

"Our government recognizes the public's right to engage in peaceful protests and lawful assembly. We also believe in building a tolerant, welcoming and inclusive society. The police will act pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada and direction of the courts if necessary to address unlawful conduct."

Milobar and Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod visited the area earlier this month to meet with Nesterski and other Blue River residents. 

Residents told him about protesters yelling at them and calling them names.

"It's getting to the point where people are saying enough is enough," Milobar said.

"Anyone has a right to protest, absolutely, but business owners, after two years, also have a right to quiet enjoyment of their own properties as well."

Milobar said he didn't witness any interactions between the protesters and campground guests when he was there.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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