Old-growth logging protesters gather outside B.C. premier's office as legislature resumes

People dressed up in costumes resembling trees are seated on steps outside Horgan's office and they brought along a large section of an old-growth tree stump that protesters say is 1,200 years old. (CTV News)

Protesters opposed to old-growth logging gathered outside Premier John Horgan's office and other entrances to British Columbia's legislature Monday as politicians returned to Victoria for a six-week fall session.

A spokesman for the group known as the Rainforest Flying Squad said the people seated at legislature entrances were not blocking others from entering the building, but sending a message to the government about deep concerns about old-growth logging.

More than 1,100 people have been arrested this year for breaching a court injunction for protesting logging of old growth in an area north of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, although a judge refused to extend the injunction last week.

“We are essentially bringing the front lines to the legislature to put the onus on government to protect the old-growth forests,” said group spokesman Robert Arbess, as he sat outside the premier's office at the legislature.

“Today, people are holding space outside the legislature when the government goes back in session,” he said. “We're not trying to block access to the building. We're trying to get the premier's attention to let him know that 1,100 people were not arrested for nothing.”

Some people seated on steps outside Horgan's office were dressed up in costumes to resemble trees and they brought along a large slice of an old-growth tree that the protesters said was 1,200 years old before it was brought down.

Old-growth logging protesters were not the only people with concerns about the policies of the B.C. government.

A group of about 75 people opposed to fracking of natural gas in northern B.C. and the government subsidies to the industry held a rally at the legislature's front lawn.

“It must end now,” said Dr. Melissa Lem, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “Let's send the legislature a message.”

Supporters of the conservation group Pacific Wild also showed up at the legislature to deliver a petition to government with more than 500,000 signatures opposing the province's wolf cull program to protect endangered caribou.

New Democrat house leader Mike Farnworth said the government has a full agenda and will introduce finance, environment and family legislation in the coming weeks.

The Opposition Liberals and Greens said they expect the government to bring forth long-awaited old-growth policy reforms during the session.

Most of the 87 seats in the chamber were full Monday for the first question period, following a safe-return protocol after recent sessions were largely held online with limited seating in the chamber.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.