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Climate activists block Vancouver's Burrard Bridge, dozens arrested in worldwide demonstrations

Last Updated Oct 7, 2019 at 10:28 am PDT

File photo: Protesters blocked traffic on the Burrard Street Bridge on Oct. 7 to call for action to address climate change. (Kurtis Doering, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Climate activists blocked the Burrard Street Bridge on Monday to send their message to leaders

Extinction Rebellion says nothing else has prompted government action required to address climate crisis

Vancouver city councillor wonders if disrupting commutes is the best way to get the climate message across

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Climate activists are returning to the streets all over the world on Monday, disrupting commutes in Vancouver, Victoria, and beyond.

As part of these protests, the Burrard Bridge was blocked Monday morning to most vehicle traffic.

“History has shown that non-violent civil disobedience works,” an activist is heard saying on a video released by Extinction Rebellion, the group behind the day of action.

In it, activists apologize to people living in the cities where protests are planned for the disruption the demonstrations will and have caused.

“We don’t want to have to be here day after day,” the members say, adding nothing else has prompted the government action required to address the climate crisis.

Dozens of climate activists have already been arrested amid protests in parts of the world. In London, police say about 135 people have been detained after they blocked areas outside of the Ministry of Defence. Arrests have also been reported in other parts of Europe, including in Spain and the Netherlands.

City councillor wonders if bridge closure is best approach

However, not everyone is on board.

While he supports and agrees with the objectives of Extinction Rebellion’s plans, Vancouver City Councillor Pete Fry isn’t quite on board with what happened.

“I’m not sure that this is entirely helpful,” he says of the Burrard Street Bridge closure. “I completely support the right to protest, of course, but I’m not sure that shutting down a commuter bridge on a Monday is really, really helping to constructively propel the agenda.”

Toronto’s Prince Edward Viaduct, Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge and the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Halifax are also being targeted for blockages.

Fry acknowledges how much of an impact the Burrard closure can have on those who use it to get around, and worries the protest could alienate some people from the broader message, “and turn them against the reality that we do need to do things to address the climate emergency.”

The Green councillor admits climate strikes have sent a powerful message, and he says a number of local politicians have joined activists to get their message across.

“So I think these are powerful messages and they’re compelling, and I think they do get politicians and policy makers’ attention, and I think that the climate strike was well-timed and well-handled,” he says. “I appreciate that it was a bit of a nuisance for commuters on a Friday afternoon.

Fry, however, stresses the importance of balance, adding it’s vital to “address the urgency of the climate emergency while also not upsetting just regular commuters and folks, and making sure that they’re coming along with us and that they’re not in an antagonistic position.”

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-With files from Lisa Staecy and The Associated Press