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Old-growth-logging protesters quickly arrested after blocking Douglas at Tolmie

Protesters say they'll continue to block traffic on major roads until provincial government keeps election promise to halt old-growth logging

Old-growth logging protesters were swiftly arrested after blocking traffic in the northbound lane of Douglas Street at Tolmie Avenue at the north end of Mayfair Shopping Centre on Wednesday.

The protest by about 15 people in high-visibility vests began around 7:30 a.m. on the border of Victoria and Saanich. Officers from both departments soon arrived to make arrests. Traffic was moving again by 8:30 a.m.

Six people were initially arrested but one was released on site without charges, leaving five who were taken away, said organizers.

Victoria police said they responded to a report of a blockade at Douglas Street and Tolmie Avenue shortly after 7 a.m.

“The group were informed that blocking traffic is a criminal offence and that doing so would make them subject to arrest,” said Bowen Osoko with the department’s community engagement office.

Once the protesters blocked traffic, they were taken into custody without incident and transported to cells for processing, said police.

Those who did not block traffic remained at the scene.

Protesters at Wednesday’s blockade said the re-elected NDP government had campaigned to stop old-growth logging and had not fulfilled that promise.

“Very simply, an election promise made is a promise that should be kept,” said a protester who declined to be named.

A blockade in Victoria last week lasted several hours and ended with seven people arrested. Six people were arrested at similar protests in Nanaimo and Vancouver on Monday.

The protest group, Save Old Growth, says it will continue to hold non-violent blockades along the Trans-Canada Highway in Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver and Revelstoke on an escalating basis all month “or until the government ceases the logging of old growth in British Columbia.”

Save Old Growth calls itself everything from a completely separate entity to an “offshoot” of Extinction Rebellion, an environmental group that has staged similar blockades on roads and bridges. A statement related to a blockade in Nanaimo on Monday called the organization Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo “Save Old Growth.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com