SMITHERS, BC: Below is a release written by the BC RCMP. It has not been edited…
There has been much speculation surrounding the extension and police enforcement of the BC Supreme Court ordered injunction against persons who interfere with the Coastal GasLink project in and around the Morice River Bridge or area accessed by the Morice West Forest Service Road.
What we can confirm at this time is that our Commanding Officer, Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Stratchan, has been involved in a series of meetings that have taken place or are being scheduled with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, Elected Councils and other stakeholders. Out of respect to everyone engaged and in the spirit of what they are trying to accomplish, we don’t want to publicly discuss the details of those meetings. However, we would like to state that we are pleased with the meetings so far, which has provided the opportunity to outline issues of concern and for the RCMP to explain our position, our understanding and role in this matter.
It was emphasized that the primary concerns for the RCMP are public and officer safety. Our duty is to preserve the safety of everyone involved in this dispute, and to prevent further contraventions to the BC Supreme Court ordered injunction. As a result, an access control checkpoint has been established at the 27 kilometer mark of the forestry road. The purpose is to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway, as well as to allow emergency service access to the area.
As of January 13, 2020, procedures at the access control checkpoint will be as follows:
- Vehicles attempting to enter the Morice Forest Service area at the 27KM mark will be stopped and occupants will be provided a copy of the injunction.
- They will be informed of the checkpoint’s purpose and advised of the hazards, including roadway conditions.
- Occupants requesting entry will be required to state their purpose, and provide identification. Permission to enter must come from the RCMP’s Operations Commander or delegate. Persons permitted would generally include:
- All Hereditary and Elected Chiefs;
- Elected and other Government Officials;
- Journalists with accreditation from recognised media outlets;
- Persons providing food, medicine or other supplies or services required for the well-being and safety of persons behind the blockades;
- Other persons as approved by the RCMP Operations Commander or delegate.
- For purposes of safety, all persons entering must indicate their specific destination, estimated time of return and indicate their understanding of the hazards present. Vehicles and persons entering will be logged to ensure awareness of who has entered and safely exited. All other vehicles will be turned away.
- All occupants of vehicles exiting the area who were not already spoken to on their way in will be briefly detained per paragraph 10 of the BC Supreme Court injunction, asked for identification, and provided a copy of the court order before they are permitted to go on their way.
The RCMP has advised all stakeholders of these procedures at the access control checkpoint. We remain committed to facilitating the ongoing dialogue between Indigenous communities, Coastal GasLink and Government, in the hopes that these efforts will result in a safe and peaceful outcome. This has been our focus and will continue to be our focus.
Written and released by BC RCMP.