Protesters block access to Swartz Bay ferry terminal; sailings delayed

At least two BC Ferries sailings were delayed due to a protest blocking the Swartz Bay ferry terminal north of Victoria early Monday.

The demonstration began before dawn, delaying 7 a.m. crossings from Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for more than an hour. The sailing from Tsawwassen eventually left the terminal around 8:10 a.m., but the 9 a.m. crossing has been cancelled.

A statement from a group that did not identify itself said the demonstration is in support of Wet’suwet’en members opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

The protest ended and the terminal reopened around 9 a.m., and traffic started flowing again. BC Ferries said all sailings leaving Swartz Bay would be delayed until traffic on Highway 17 has cleared.

Inbound lanes leading to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal were blocked early Monday. Passengers trying to make a 7 a.m. sailing were stuck in the gridlock. (Anna Gerrard/Twitter)

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said the protest blocked the inbound lanes to the Swartz Bay terminal, but there was also “concern” that kayaks might be in the water.

Passengers driving to get to the fare booths ahead of the sailings were stuck in gridlocked traffic.

Anne Roberge had a reservation for the 7 a.m. sailing and couldn’t get close to the terminal.

“At one point we said, ‘Oh boy. That doesn’t look good,'” she said, speaking by phone from her spot in traffic.

Passengers heading to Swartz Bay were stuck in long lines Monday as a protest blocked access to the terminal. (Annette Toth/Twitter)

Sidney RCMP also responded.

Passengers are asked to monitor the BC Ferries website for any updates as the traffic backlog clears.

“This may take some time,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau. “We understand people’s frustration, but these events do take time.”

Coastal GasLink is building a 670-kilometre pipeline from northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast. The project runs through Wet’suwet’en traditional territory.

The company has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nation councils along its path, but five hereditary chiefs say the project has no authority without their consent.

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