Nova Scotia

Protest to shut down Macdonald Bridge on Monday to demand climate action

Commuters who usually take the Macdonald Bridge will likely need to take an alternative route on Monday. The environmental activists known as Extinction Rebellion plan to shut down the bridge for an indeterminate amount of time to get decision-makers to act on climate change.

Group's coordinator says protest aims to get decision-makers to act on climate emergency

Commuters who usually take the Macdonald Bridge will likely need to take an alternative route on Monday with a protest set to begin at 7 a.m. (Robert Short/CBC)

An environmental activism group is planning to shut down the Macdonald Bridge linking Halifax and Dartmouth on Monday to encourage decision-makers to take action on "the climate and ecological emergency we are facing."

Patrick Yancey, a coordinator for the Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia group, told CBC News the protest will begin around 7 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 7 for an indeterminate amount of time. 

"If you look at the London uprising in England last April, they ended up holding Waterloo Bridge and three other major traffic points for about a week and a half," Yancey said. 

"That would be a bit optimistic we think. But we're not really making any assumptions about how long it will last."

'Bridge Out'

Yancey said the action is called "Bridge Out" and he said other Extinction Rebellion groups in Canada will be taking similar action on Monday across the country.

He said commuters approaching the Macdonald Bridge will be directed away from it, adding no one will be stuck idling on the bridge.

"That's to highlight the fact that the bridge to the future right now is out because our decision-makers currently have us on course for three degrees of warming, which is catastrophic," he said.

Police, Halifax Transit plans

Halifax Transit is considering re-routing buses that would normally cross the Macdonald Bridge to the MacKay Bridge for the duration of the protest.

Brynn Langille, a spokesperson for the municipality, said more details on transit will be announced later in the week.

Const. John MacLeod of the Halifax Regional Police told CBC News in an email police will maintain the Macdonald Bridge as a critical transportation route for emergency vehicles.

"While we respect everyone's right to legally demonstrate, our primary focus, as with any protest situation, will be on public safety," MacLeod said.

"We want to assure citizens that we will have resources in place and will respond accordingly to ensure the safety of commuters, protesters, bridge employees and our officers."

Yancey said he's aware of criticism on social media from those who say the protest will disproportionately affect regular commuters rather than decision-makers. 

"The people who are frustrated about the inconvenience — they're absolutely right and we empathize with them. They shouldn't be having to deal with this. None of us should be having to deal with this situation right now," he said.

"Our decision-makers should simply be acting on the science and doing everything they possible can to ensure the best chance of a livable planet for the next generation."

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

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