British Columbia

Climate activists plan to force closure of major Canadian bridges with lie-down protest

The group's targets include the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Halifax, the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver and the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto.

Extinction Rebellion aims to disrupt traffic in Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver on Oct. 7

The Burrard Street Bridge is one of the targets of Extinction Rebellion's protest planned for Oct. 7. (Christer Waara/CBC)

A group of environmental activists is planning to shut down some of Canada's busiest bridges on Monday by having protesters lie down in traffic lanes.

Extinction Rebellion's targets include the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Halifax, the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver and the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto.

A Nova Scotia organizer for the group says the planned acts of civil disobedience aim to show the public that major disruptions are inevitable if society fails to act on climate change.

In similar protests in the United Kingdom this summer, the group created traffic disruptions in several major cities that lasted for hours or even days.

Vancouver police said officers are "monitoring" the group's plans as they take shape over the weekend and will provide updates on any traffic disruptions over social media.

Peaceful protest versus safe passage

A spokesman for Halifax police says "public safety" will be the primary focus of the force's response to any protest on Oct. 7, and officers will "enforce federal and provincial statutes where necessary."

Halifax Harbour Bridges, which oversees both the Macdonald and MacKay bridges, said in an email that management wants to respect the right to peaceful protest while upholding the Crown corporation's mandate to ensure "safe cross-harbour passage."

About 40,000 vehicles use the Macdonald bridge daily.

Patrick Yancey, the Nova Scotia organizer with Extinction Rebellion, said all but emergency vehicles that urgently need to use the Macdonald bridge will be asked not to cross.

The second bridge over the harbour, the MacKay, would remain open, he said, and the roughly 1,200 people who bike or walk across the Macdonald bridge daily won't be blocked.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said there will be irreversible changes if the world doesn't take rapid, intense action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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