Save Old Growth says it’s ending major road protests

After drawing the ire of angry drivers on major roadways to draw attention to old-growth logging, the group appears to be changing its tactics

This article has been updated with comment from activist Ben Holt, who is facing mischief charges for his protest actions.

An activist group that has drawn ire for blocking major roadways in British Columbia says those disruptions are ending.

“Major traffic disruptions will end today,” reads a statement from Save Old Growth’s central organizing committee. Instead, the group says it’s turning its attention to other tactics like public outreach and events.

“Other strategies will be used that won’t stop traffic,” the statement continues. “We continue to request the government take urgent steps to permanently protect B.C.’s remaining old growth forests.”

Activist and North Vancouver resident Ben Holt said the group has had some contact with people in the B.C. Premier’s office, who weren’t willing to negotiate with the group while there were ongoing blockades.

“So we’re giving them the opportunity to negotiate,” he told the North Shore News. “We’re not anticipating anything significant to come out of it, but we feel it would be silly to not have this opportunity.”

“We don’t have a date for how long we’re going to be in this process,” Holt said.

The 52-year-old computer programmer had court appearances in North Vancouver provincial court and Vancouver provincial court on Wednesday. He’s facing mischief charges after gluing his hands to the Upper Levels Highway between Caulfeild and Horseshoe Bay on June 14, and after demonstrating on Grandview Highway in Burnaby on April 18.

To draw attention to the issue of logging old growth trees – a practice that polls show many British Columbians think should be curbed – members of Save Old Growth have blocked highways with their bodies and vehicles. Those roadways include Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing, Lions Gate Bridge, the Trans-Canada Highway, George Massey Tunnel and the Pat Bay Highway near Greater Victoria’s Swartz Bay ferry terminal.

On several occasions, angry drivers have confronted the protesters verbally and physically. Some of those drivers have said that the group is only drawing negative attention to its cause, and that no one cares about climate change.

“There’s only 2.7 per cent of productive old growth forest left,” Holt said. “What we’re trying to do is get the government to follow through and do the right thing.”

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