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Old-growth protester injured during protest has broken pelvis, faces long recovery

Highway was blocked Monday near Swartz Bay terminal; an impatient motorist snapped a support beam, causing activist to fall to pavement, a protest organizer said
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Northbound traffic on the Patricia Pat Highway was blocked by protesters on Monday, June 13, 2022. SUBMITTED

An activist who toppled to the ground while blocking northbound traffic on the Patricia Bay Highway remained in hospital Tuesday with a broken pelvis and is facing a long recovery, his colleagues said.

The man who fell has been identified as Trevor Mckelvie, also known as Red, a longtime environmentalist.

At about 5:45 a.m. on Monday up to 15 protesters blocked the highway near the Swartz Bay ferry terminal.

It took until noon for the protesters to be removed and the road cleared — two people were chained to a vehicle, another was chained to an oil barrel filled with cement, and another was atop a ladder partly held in place by ropes attached to a make-shift platform. Five protesters were arrested.

Organizer Sophia Papp said a “frustrated” driver snapped a horizontal “support beam” that subsequently led to the protester falling. Police say the matter is under investigation.

“An angry motorist snapped a support board used to support the ladder Red was sitting on,” said the administrators of a gofundme fundraiser posting. “Because of ladder instability, Red fell from a height of approximately 20 feet and shattered his pelvis.”

The fundraiser, at just over $3,000 Tuesday, is being held to buy medical equipment and pay for transportation Mckelvie is expected to need once discharged from hospital.

Mckelvie underwent surgery on Tuesday and a message on gofundme said his recovery is expected to be six months to a year. He will be unable to continue to do carpentry work in the short term, it said.

Members of the group Save Old Growth say they remain committed to blockading roads until the B.C. government passes legislation to end logging of old growth in the province’s forests. “We do not want to risk our lives by inconveniencing people, but this is what it’s come to,” Papp said Tuesday.

An online petition to save all old-growth forests in the province is at almost 300,000 signatures.

In April, Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said the British Columbia government has worked with First Nations to defer logging across more than a million hectares of old-growth forests at risk of permanent loss.

Logging of a further 619,000 hectares of old growth has been deferred at the request of First Nations to protect wildlife habitat, at-risk species, salmon populations and cultural practices, Conroy said.

The minister said more than 80 per cent of old-growth forests ­identified as at risk of irreversible loss are not threatened by logging, either because they were deferred, they were already set aside, or they’re not economically viable to harvest.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself Clear the Road is proposing a class-action lawsuit against the people “behind the illegal blockades in British Columbia” and has its own petition, saying authorities need to send a clear message to those blocking roads it is “not acceptable” and involved citizens can expect the full force of the law to be applied.

Mckelvie was for many years a volunteer firefighter, say friends, and has taken part in several campaigns to save old-growth forests in B.C. including at Fairy Creek where blockades began in August 2020 to protect what’s considered the last stand of old-growth not located in a park on southern Vancouver Island.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com