Demonstrators block CN Railway tracks in New Hazelton, B.C. on Feb. 11, 2020. (Contributed photo by Randall Shoop)

Demonstrators block CN Railway tracks in New Hazelton, B.C. on Feb. 11, 2020. (Contributed photo by Randall Shoop)

CN Rail to shut down tracks in northern B.C. if pipeline blockade continues

Railway company has obtained court injunctions to remove both blockades and are working with RCMP

Canadian National Railway Co. says it will be forced to close a “significant” part of its rail network due to ongoing blockades by anti-pipeline protesters, including in New Hazelton.

Protesters have been blocking the tracks in opposition to the Coastal GasLink natural energy project since Sunday. The demonstration is one of many happening across the country in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and its hereditary chiefs.

Meanwhile, a similar blockade is set up near Belleville, Ont. That demonstration has caused Via Rail to cancel more than 150 passenger trains connecting Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

In a news release Tuesday, CN said that hundreds of its freight trains have been canceled.

“The Port of Prince Rupert is effectively already shut down,” said CN president JJ Ruest. “The Ports of Montreal and Halifax are also already feeling the impact of these blockades which will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks.”

The railway company says it has obtained court injunctions to remove both blockades and are working with RCMP to enforce the orders.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he is working with the railways and his Ontario counterpart Caroline Mulroney to find a solution, and that blockage of tracks is “dangerous and illegal.”

On Tuesday, protesters blocked elected officials and journalists from entering the B.C. Legislature as part of ongoing solidarity protests in the province’s capital.

WATCH: B.C. legislature pipeline protest camp disrupts throne speech ceremonies

Meanwhile, RCMP said officers are winding down their enforcement of Morice West Forest Service Road, where Wet’suwet’en members and their supporters had been blocking Coastal GasLink workers from accessing a construction site on First Nation territory.

The pipeline project is set to run from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. Coastal GasLink has reached benefit agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the route, including five elected Wet’suwet’en councils. However, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say the council established by the Indian Act only has authority over reserve lands.

The hereditary chiefs assert title to a vast 22,000-square-kilometre area because they have never signed a treaty ceding their traditional territories.

– with files from The Canadian Press


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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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