Skip to content

NEWS: Vancouver-Burnaby chapter sand-bag protest

The Vancouver Sun reports this evening that:

Dozens of protesters on Saturday dumped 200 bags of sand collected from the South Fraser Perimetre Road project at the front doors of the World Trade Center, where Premier Gordon Campbell was believed to be holed up inside.

The so-called “direct action against climate change” was aimed at protesting the province’s plans to build freeways like the South Fraser Perimetre Road, at the expense of better transit and other sustainable options to get around.

The sand, taken from the South Fraser Perimetre Road project in Delta, included that dumped on agricultural land, said organizer Eric Doherty, of the Council of Canadians’ Vancouver-Burnaby chapter. Protesters lined up in assembly line fashion and passed the bags to the front of the line, where they were stacked in front of the doors.

“We took a small step toward digging up the South Fraser Perimetre freeway,” Doherty said, referring to the sandbags. “We’re going to keep the dike in place here to remind people of what the consequences of climate change are.

“Our main message is there are real solutions and we need to take real action. What we’re seeing from the provincial government is climate crime.”

Protesters, who said Campbell was seen entering the building earlier, called at him to come out. Most carried placards reading: Better transit not freeways. Stop Climate Change. “Campbell, where are you?” the protesters called.

Gina Vos, who carried a sign reading: “Cut Gateway freeways. $ billions for housing, health, education, transit,” chuckled as the sandbags mounted higher against the door.

“We’re giving the sand back to them,” she said. “We’re spending a lot on freeways and we don’t need that; we need better transit.”

The protest was aimed at putting a global face on the issue, particularly as it coincided with the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun, Doherty said. “We’re really part of a global movement; that’s where the hope lies,” he said, noting the agreement in Cancun was “meaningless; it’s a face-saving gesture for failure.”

Cathy Wilander, of the Council of Canadians’ Delta chapter, said the protest was “just the beginning of climate justice in B.C.” She said she was pleased with the turnout, given the cold weather and the fact it’s so close to Christmas.

“It’s a climate crime going on with the destruction of habitat, destruction of Burns Bog and the pavement of farmland, which we really need,” she said, adding the trucks and cars using the freeway will also post health risks to residents by affecting air quality. “We wanted to get [the issue] on the street and take action.”

Other speakers at the event included Richmond Coun. Harold Steves, the former MLA credited with creating the Agricultural Land Reserve and Irene Lazinger, past secretary-treasurer of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

The action was co-organized by the Council of Canadians, the Canada-Bolivia Solidarity Committee and GatewaySucks.org.