Traffic was heavier than usual crossing the Johnson Street Bridge Monday evening.
A local environmental group blocked rush-hour traffic on the bridge for a sit-in and vigil, protesting the causes of climate change.
The bridge was closed for about two and a half hours
A Facebook group created for the event said protesters planned to block traffic on the bridge for 12 minutes, one minute for each of the 12 years they say the world has left to address the climate crisis. The rally was also to include a two minute moment of silence to acknowledge the depth of the climate emergency.
The protest started at Centennial Square with roughly 100 people gathered, listening to speeches, before heading to the Johnson Street Bridge. About 250 people occupied the bridge with a small group of protesters remaining behind. Six protesters stayed on the bridge until the end around 8 p.m., and were arrested.
They’ve made it to the #JohnsonStBridge . Officials put down the west gate to keep everyone contained. The sit in should start soon. Bridge access is closed to vehicle traffic #YYJTraffic #YYJ pic.twitter.com/SysxHzUkn5— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) December 4, 2018
Victoria Police were aware of the groups’ plan, and worked to minimize the impact to commuters.
The protest group numbering about 250 has departed Centennial Square & are headed towards the Johnson Street Bridge via Pandora Ave. Our officers have reminded them that blocking a highway is not lawful. #yyjtraffic in the area will be disrupted.— Victoria Police (@vicpdcanada) December 4, 2018
Activists are preparing to march on the Johnson Street Bridge in protest of Canada’s climate policies. They’ll stage a sit in on the bridge after speeches here at #CentennialSquare #yyj pic.twitter.com/xUtAcV5Qje— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) December 4, 2018
The sit-in and vigil was organized by a group on Vancouver Island to coincide with the first day of the annual UN climate change conference, happening in Poland this year.
“This gathering is in solidarity with people worldwide taking bold action demanding governments transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future; and with Indigenous frontline communities, from Secwepemc territory to the Unist’ot’en Yintah, holding the line to protect water, land and life and to stop dangerous fossil fuel expansion across unceded homelands,” the group wrote in a statement on the event.
The group says this was the first action to be taken in a “graduated-escalation of local, non-violent people-powered direct-action that will continue until dramatic climate action is taken.”
Participants are calling on the governments of Canada and B.C. to abandon plans for expanding the Alberta tarsands and continued fracking, and instead reallocate their funding towards green energy projects as part of an aggressive plan to meet UN targets.