British Columbia

Vancouver Island highway reopens after blockade

The Pat Bay Highway on Vancouver Island has reopened after a blockade stopped traffic for several hours on Wednesday.

Dozens of demonstrators blocked Highway 17 in Central Saanich for several hours Wednesday

Demonstrators blocked the Pat Bay Highway in Central Saanich, B.C., on Wednesday. (Adam van der Zwan/CBC)

The Pat Bay Highway on Vancouver Island has reopened after a blockade stopped traffic for several hours Wednesday.

Central Saanich Police said about 100 people moved onto the road at Mount Newton Cross Road at 2 p.m. PT, blocking traffic in all directions — including drivers heading to and from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal and the city of Victoria.

Demonstrators sang, drummed and held signs in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline set to run through their territory. 

The blockade had cleared by 5 p.m.

Drive BC said there was still heavy congestion on the highway Wednesday evening, but the road was clear.

No arrests were made in relation to the demonstration.

The province obtained a court injunction earlier Wednesday to stop blockades on the busy highway, but allow protests in designated areas along the road. Central Saanich police Const. Matt Ball said the injunction was not being enforced, as protesters were demonstrating peacefully.

BC Ferries also has a court injunction to prevent blockades at any of its terminals, except in designated protest areas that don't block ferry access.

The blockade was the latest in a series of protests that have unfolded across the country in opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built on Wet'suwet'en territory in northern B.C.

Police detoured traffic around the blockade for several hours. (Adam van der Zwan/CBC)

Dozens of people have been arrested at port and rail blockades for violating injunction orders.

In Victoria, a group of of Indigenous youth have been camping outside the B.C. Legislature since Monday in support of Indigenous sovereignty.