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Court injunction against Fairy Creek protest quietly expires

A blockade organizer says logging company Teal Jones was already able to access all the old-growth trees people were trying to protect
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Protesters take part in a peace circle along a logging road in the Fairy Creek logging area near Port Renfrew on Oct. 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

An injunction preventing blockades in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew, where about 1,100 arrests were made in 2021, has expired.

The injunction granted to Teal Cedar was in effect until midnight on Sept. 26. It was first granted in 2021 in response to protesters blocking roads in Tree Farm Licence 46 in an attempt to prevent the company from logging old-growth trees.

Kathy Code, a member of the Rainforest Flying Squad, which organized blockades, said her lawyers have seen no application to extend the injunction.

The company would have to seek a new injunction if it wants one in the future, she said.

“But it seems unlikely because there’s really not much action within TFL 46,” Code said.

Despite protesters blocking roads by suspending themselves from large homemade tripods and chaining their arms in PVC pipes stuck in the ground, Teal Jones was able to access all the old-growth trees people were trying to protect, Code said. “It’s all gone down.”

Teal Jones did not respond to an interview request.

The Fairy Creek protests led to about 1,100 arrests and 464 charges laid.

The B.C. Prosecution Service approved 464 charges, mostly for contempt of court, against 413 people. There were approximately 250 guilty pleas.

In August, 146 charges were dropped because police failed to read the full injunction to protesters.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson ruled the abbreviated script they did read didn’t give protesters enough information to have “actual knowledge” of the contents of the legal order and prove they were “wilfully blind” to it.

Twenty-two charges were withdrawn for other reasons.

Six people were acquitted after trial and five were convicted.

There are still nine cases outstanding, as well as a civil suit by Teal Jones against 16 people, including Code. The civil claim accuses them of conspiracy. A decision is expected in the case next month.

Activists continue to fight to preserve old-growth forests in B.C., and events are planned province-wide today to demand more action from the province.

Organizers are calling on the province to move faster to implement recommendations in an old-growth strategic review that was released three years ago.

The province committed in 2020 to implementing all 14 recommendations, which included establishing and funding a robust monitoring and evaluating system to update management of old forests, improving the mapping and classification of old forests and deferring development in old forests where ecosystems are at very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.

Code said while many parcels of old forests have been temporarily deferred from logging, it’s difficult to tell how much is really protected.

“The result is a big sea of confusion and lack of information about what’s protected, what’s not protected and for how long. There’s certainly no long-term protection for one single tree made by this government,” said Code, who will be attending an event in Nanaimo outside MLA Sheila Malcolmson’s office to demand provincial action.

An event is planned in ­Victoria outside MLA Grace Lore’s Fort Street office. A group is expected to occupy the street from 1 to 4:30 p.m., and a three-minute flashmob to the tune of Stop! in the Name of Love with reworked lyrics about old-growth trees is planned at an unspecified location in Saanich.

“The trees themselves have witnessed so much history, are history. A living history that we should respect,” said Jane ­Welton of Greater Victoria Acting Together, one of the groups organizing the Saanich event.

— with files from Louise Dickson

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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