Date: Friday, March 25th, 2022
Victoria, BC – James Bay remains open to local vehicle traffic only with officers continuing to facilitate access to the area through access points into James Bay.
VicPD established a local vehicle traffic only area in James Bay on Saturday, March 19th 2022 in preparation for planned, upcoming protests. While vehicle traffic is limited in James Bay to local vehicles only for the time being, everyone is able to access the area on foot, by bicycle and by B.C. Transit. B.C. Transit operations continue as normal and there are a series of stops directly next to the BC Legislature. The James Bay local vehicle only access points remain in effect throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, protesters were able to access the B.C. Legislature area, gather for speeches and have their voices heard. The group then marched down Douglas Street, before returning the B.C. Legislature lawn along Government Street. Protestors have continued to be able access the B.C. Legislature area on foot with small groups gathering along Belleville Street daily without significant issue.
Attempts to access the local traffic areas continuing
Officers have continued to facilitate access to local vehicles to James Bay daily since Saturday. Officers have encountered daily attempts by non-local, protest-affiliated vehicles to access the James Bay area, with some vehicles making multiple attempts at various access points. These attempts include vehicles from out of province. Officers have also encountered attempts by protest-affiliated vehicles to establish claims of James Bay residency by renting parking spaces in the neighbourhood.
Regional Partners, volunteers essential to ongoing success
The support of regional partners, including Saanich Police, the Central Saanich Police Service and Oak Bay Police has been essential in the continuing success of the James Bay local vehicle access only area. Officers with the Greater Victoria Public Safety Unit (PSU), VicPD Traffic, as well as officers from our municipal partners and volunteer VicPD Reserve Constables have all provided direct staffing at the James Bay access points. Officers and staff from a variety of sections have provided additional support.
A volunteer VicPD Reserve Constable and a Saanich Police Department PSU officer at a local access point at Humboldt and Wharf streets
Two PSU officers, one with VicPD and one with Saanich PD, at an access point at Douglas and Belleville streets
Oak Bay Police officer at Douglas at Superior streets
Central Saanich and Saanich Police Department vehicles in Victoria’s Inner Harbour
Before the establishment of the local vehicle access points, eight weeks of continuous disruptions involving vehicles, “slow-roll” blockades and the use of horns, including modified air, train and ship horns, have had a significant and unlawful impact on residents and businesses in James Bay and the B.C. Legislature area. Additionally, related protest events in other cities saw escalations, including confrontations between protest groups and confrontations with police. As a result VicPD was required to increase our response to ensure we are able to keep people safe and able to continue to facilitate a safe, peaceful and lawful protest environment.
Safe, peaceful and lawful protest are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Occupation is not. Dangerous and/or unlawful activity will continue to be met with de-escalation and enforcement.
Controlled access and local traffic only areas will remain in effect as long as required to ensure public safety and to facilitate an environment for safe, peaceful and lawful protest.
In addition, our temporary, monitored CCTV cameras remain in the area of the B.C. Legislature. These cameras are deployed in keeping with B.C. and Federal privacy legislation. The cameras will be taken down once the protest events have concluded.
We will continue to provide up to date traffic and protest response information. Please follow our VicPDCanada Twitter account for the most recent details.
If you have concerns about these road closures or our CCTV camera deployment please email [email protected].