3 arrested as Toronto police break up rail blockade that disrupted GO train service

Toronto police moved in overnight and broke up a protest that disrupted GO train service on the Milton line yesterday.

Regular service expected on all 7 Metrolinx rail routes today, spokesperson says

Toronto police remove demonstrators from railway tracks in the city's west end in the early morning hours on Wednesday. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

Toronto police have broken up a protest in the city's west end that disrupted GO train service on the Milton line yesterday.

Around 3 a.m. ET,  police began removing demonstrators. Most were immediately released, although three people were arrested, police said in a series of tweets overnight. 

The Indigenous land rights protest took place behind Lambton Arena, near the corner of Dundas Street W. and Scarlett Road in the city's west end. 

At least 30 people blocked the tracks in that area for several hours. Hundreds of other people stood alongside the tracks in support.

Toronto police said they were called to the demonstration Tuesday to keep the peace and limit disruption to "critical infrastructure."

Watch Toronto police remove the rail blockade:

Toronto police remove rail blockade

2 years ago
Duration 0:48
Police made arrests as they moved in on a rail blockade in Toronto's west end.

The demonstrators said the rail blockade was established in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline set to cut through their traditional territory and are engaged in contentious negotiations with the federal government over the RCMP presence on their land.

Some said they also wanted to show solidarity with other groups around the country protesting the pipeline. 

Tyendinaga Mohawks staged a rail blockade near Belleville, Ont. and 10 protesters were arrested there on Monday. A small encampment remains a short distance from the original blockade.

Despite the arrests in Toronto, protester Sam Wong said actions will continue until "the RCMP leave Wet'suwet'en territory" and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the hereditary chiefs.

"They have made their claims extremely clear and it's time for them to be respected," Wong said.

Toronto police also forcibly removed several protesters on Tuesday afternoon. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Blockade led to service suspension

The Toronto blockade lead to a major service disruption during the Tuesday afternoon rush hour. Metrolinx announced shortly after 6 p.m that GO train service on the Milton line had resumed with a detour in place due to the "safety incident" on the tracks.

The detour added about 30 minutes to each affected trip.

Protesters in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project blocked rail lines in Toronto. (Evan Tsuyoshi Mitsui/CBC)

The regional transit agency said early Wednesday that service is expected to run regularly throughout the morning on all seven of its rail routes.

Spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said Metrolinx is working closely with police to monitor any further demonstrations that might form today.

"It's a complex network of rail that is shared between different partners," she told CBC Toronto.

"It's been a very unpredictable couple of days and I'm not 100 per cent sure we're out of it."

Other disruptions Tuesday included a blockade along a highway near the site of an ongoing land dispute in Caledonia, Ont., and one along a stretch of rail in Sherbrooke, Que., about 150 kilometres east of Montreal.

Several high-profile blockades were dismantled by police in B.C. and Ontario earlier this week.

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has said Ottawa is still committed to peacefully resolving the situation that has hampered freight and passenger travel in much of the country for nearly three weeks.

With files from The Canadian Press