Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Man who blocked highway in Nanaimo, Langford receives a year's probation

“The accused simply chose to get his message or point across in a completely selfish manner” judge says in sentencing man who blocked the highway for hours
Nanaimo courthouse. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

A 34-year-old man who blocked highways in Langford and ­Nanaimo in April 2022 to protest old-growth logging and raise awareness of climate change has been handed a suspended sentence and a year’s probation.

Derek Hugh Menard pleaded guilty in Nanaimo provincial court to two counts of blocking roads. Each sentence of one year’s probation is to be served concurrently. He was also ordered to complete 40 hours of community service.

On April 8 of last year, Menard was among a group of protesters blocking the southbound lane of the Trans-Canada Highway at Cranberry Avenue in south ­Nanaimo.

Police estimated up to 200 vehicles were unable to travel south, Judge Brian Harvey said in his May sentencing decision.

Protesters held signs saying “Save Old Growth.” Police asked them to leave the highway but two remained.

One was Menard, who was sitting in the middle of the roadway with his left hand super-glued to the surface, Harvey said.

He was arrested and removed by the RCMP’s obstacle removal team. One of the conditions of his release later that day was not to block any highway in B.C. He was released with a court date in coming months.

On April 20 last year, however, RCMP officers were sent to the Trans- Canada Highway near the West Shore Parkway where a group of four or five people were blocking northbound traffic near the ice cream store at the start of the Malahat Drive.

Menard was attached to a concrete-filled barrel known as a “sleeping dragon,” along with a co-accused. They refused to remove themselves from the highway, Harvey said.

An RCMP obstacle removal team was again called out. It took more than three hours to remove the two, resulting in a total of four hours that the northbound highway lane was blocked.

Based on photos and video taken at the time, Harvey said to say people were “irate at the accused and his co-accused would be an understatement.”

Some motorists left their vehicles and were yelling and swearing at protesters, Harvey said. Before police arrived, some attempted to physically remove the protesters from the concrete-filled barrel.

Court documents note that Menard studied cellular biology and genetics at the University of B.C. A forensic psychiatrist diagnosed him with persistent depressive disorder.

The Crown suggested that 14 days in jail was an appropriate sentence, saying Menard’s actions were a misguided form of protest. The sleeping dragon was an aggravating factor.

The defence sought a conditional sentence, noting that Menard did not have a criminal record and his actions were altruistic. He did not personally benefit and put himself at risk for what he believed was a way to draw attention to the issues.

Harvey said that Menard’s moral culpability was high.

“There is absolutely no question that this accused knew what he was doing and had every opportunity to stop and not cause members of the public any ­further inconvenience even when he had the ability to do so when requested by the police,” he said.

“The accused simply chose to get his message or point across in a completely selfish manner and, ironically in my view, perhaps exacerbated the problem, or ­crisis of climate change, by having idling vehicles contributing to the very problem he himself is passionate to change.”

[email protected]

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: [email protected]