New direct-action group called Save Old Growth plans to disrupt traffic at spots along Trans-Canada Highway in B.C.

One of the organizers says that if the government delays action, the tactics will escalate in their frequency and extent

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      There may be traffic tie-ups along some busy B.C. commuter routes in the coming weeks.

      That's because a new direct-action group called Save Old Growth says it will begin disrupting the flow of vehicles along the Trans-Canada Highway, beginning on Monday (January 10).

      According to a January 9 news release, the campaign will start with demonstrators blocking off-ramps several times per week in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and in the B.C. Interior near Revelstoke.

      Save Old Growth says that it will continue doing this until all old-growth logging is halted in B.C.

      "The provincial government has broken the social contract and failed to protect B.C. families from the now regular disasters besetting our cities and towns," organizer Brent Eichler said in the news release. "Old-growth forests are the lungs of our planet, and the B.C. NDP and their corporate pals are lung cancer. There are no jobs on a dead planet.”

      Eichler is president of Unifor local  950, which represents technicians at Bell West Division.

      Save Old Growth expects 15 people to "risk arrest just on the first day of the campaign". 

      The group is asking motorists on Highway 1 to keep speeds below 30 kilometres per hour over the next few weeks.

      Another organizer is SFU undergraduate student Zain Haq, who helped spearhead peaceful yet disruptive climate protests last year with Extinction Rebellion Vancouver.

      Haq claimed that the provincial government and the minister of forests "have refused to act in the best interests of the public".

      "We are declaring the Trans-Canada Highway a site of permanent nonviolent civil resistance," Haq said. "January 10 onwards, the tactics will escalate in their frequency and extent if the government delays action.”

      Last year, Haq told the Straight that he thinks the media can help stave off ecological disaster if it would start telling the truth about how serious the climate crisis has become.

      “I think people in the media right now have probably the most important job that journalists have had in history, which is to hold the government accountable,” Haq said at the time. “Really, I think we can learn a lot from people like George Orwell and the idea that it’s about telling the truth and it’s about being objective, not impartial."

      According to the B.C. government, there are approximately 20.3 million hectares of land in the provincial timber-harvesting land base. That's about 6.5 times the size of Vancouver Island.

      About three million hectares is old-growth forest. That's about 260 times the area of the City of Vancouver.

      B.C. government

      On average from 2014 to 2018, the province states, around 200,000 hectares of forested land are harvested each year.

      "To put this in perspective, British Columbia is roughly 95 million hectares in size," the B.C. government states. "Approximately 56.2 million hectares of British Columbia is publicly managed forest."

      Save Old Growth takes its inspiration from the U.S. Freedom Riders, who employed peaceful civil disobedience to end segregation in the Deep South, and Insulate Britain, which has used the same tactic to push for the insulation of homes to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.