Leon Cake

Leon Cake

UPDATE: Activists protest Colliery dam spillway construction at Nanaimo park

NANAIMO – Protesters chain themselves to tree and disperse through park to delay start of dam auxiliary spillway work.

Activists turned out early Tuesday in an attempt to delay the start of construction of an auxiliary spillway for the lower dam at Colliery Dam Park in Nanaimo.

About 30 protesters, including city councillors Jim Kipp and Gord Fuller, were at the site where crews were to start cutting down trees to make way for the spillway channel.

Workers with engineering firm CopCan Civil, contracted by the city to do the work, could not begin operations until the public was cleared from the area.

Bylaws officers started enforcement shortly before 10:30 a.m., asking protesters to leave or be issued violation tickets carrying fines of $187.

Several of the protesters chained themselves to a tree to thwart City of Nanaimo bylaws officers’ attempts to evict them from the park, while other activists dispersed in pairs throughout the park, forcing bylaws officers to chase them down.

Randy Churchill, city bylaws manager, ordered members of the media covering the protest to leave or be similarly fined shortly before 11 a.m., when the RCMP were called in to help remove protesters refusing to leave the park.

Police later arrested two men, ages 73 and 29, who refused to leave, and escorted them from the park at about 3 p.m.

Police have recommended a charge of mischief against both men who were both released on a promise to appear in Nanaimo provincial court at a later date and on the condition neither of them return to Colliery Dam Park.

“In total there were 15 bylaw tickets issued and at the end of the day there was a number, five or six protesters, choosing not to leave,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “So we made contact with them and gave them ample time to make a decision whether they were going to stay in the park or not.”

Jim Kipp, Nanaimo city councillor, was pictured on social media Tuesday holding a bylaw violation ticket he was issued for refusing to leave the park.

Police had to cut away the chain with which several protesters had chained themselves to the base of a tree.

Police are also following up with several protesters who were issued bylaws ticket and are suspected of having provided a false name, O’Brien said. They could be charged with obstruction, a criminal charge for providing a false name to peace officers.

“The exclusion zone’s in place and anybody found inside that [Wednesday] will be dealt with exactly the same way,” O’Brien said.

Two people were arrested Wednesday in the park, one of whom was charged with breach of conditions after the previous day’s arrest and was held in custody overnight. He is scheduled to make a court appearance today (Sept. 17). The other was released pending a promise to appear to face possible charges of mischief.

Philip Cooper, city communications manager, said in a e-mail crews put in about three hours of work after the last of the protesters were removed from the park and the work exclusion zone was closed Tuesday afternoon. Work resumed Wednesday morning.

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