[UPDATED] Traffic has returned to normal on the Pat Bay Highway after a blockade by Idle No More protesters this morning.
For less than an hour this morning, starting at 11 a.m., demonstrators shut down a portion of the highway in Saanich between View Road and Mount Newton Cross Road.
Some drivers were stuck in their cars as leaders of the Saanich Peninsula First Nations spoke to the crowd of about 200.
There were no reports from police of trouble during the demonstration.
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The Pat Bay Highway between Island View Road and Mount Newton Cross Road is expected to be closed to traffic in both directions Wednesday morning during a protest planned by Idle No More.
The blockade, organized by Saanich Peninsula First Nations to bring attention to treaty and environmental issues, will start about 11 a.m. with a march from the Tsawout First Nation band office on Tetayut Road, to Mount Newton Cross Road and the highway.
“At that time, both sides of the highway will close down. For the safety of everyone, it’s in their best interest that we close down the whole highway,” said Central Saanich Police Cpl. Pat Bryant.
The blockade is likely to last about half an hour, but, depending on the number of demonstrators, it could take another half-hour to clear the highway, and there will be traffic delays, he said.
Northbound traffic will be diverted at Island View Road to East Saanich Road and then north on Central Saanich Road, rejoining the highway at Mount Newton Cross Road.
Southbound traffic will be diverted to Amity Road, south to Central Saanich Road and rejoin the highway at Island View Road.
Saanich Peninsula Hospital has been told about the demonstration, Bryant said.
“And, if there’s any emergency, people will be allowed to make their way there. That will not be a concern,” he said.
Tsawout elder Eric Pelkey, one of the protest organizers, said a meeting was held Tuesday morning with representatives from the RCMP, Central Saanich police and the Transportation Ministry.
“They made a request to us not to close the highway, but we said we were going to do it anyway, so they said they would help us to make sure everyone is safe,” Pelkey said.
At least 300 people have said they will be at the demonstration, Pelkey said.
Bus services are ensuring they have detour plans in place.
Pacific Coach Lines plans to leave the Victoria terminal at the usual times and use alternate routes. B.C. Transit will post bus detours on its website.
“We have not been informed about the protest through any official channels, so we can only prepare for what we think might happen,” said B.C. Transit spokeswoman Meribeth Burton. “We are going to be adaptable.”
Routes affected are No. 70 and No. 81.
Idle No More demonstrations are being held across the country with the overall aim of “a revolution that honours and fulfils indigenous sovereignty, which protects the land and water,” according to the grassroots movement’s mission statement.
In Victoria, a teach-in and public forum will be held at 7 tonight at the University of Victoria’s First People’s House.
The Where Do We Go From Here teach-in features indigenous governance professor Taiaiake Alfred and Victoria poet laureate Janet Rogers.
On Saturday, Idle No Protesters are planning to gather at Mayfair mall at 1 p.m. Another demonstration is planned for Jan. 26 with protesters marching from Centennial Square to the legislature at 11 a.m.
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