Protestors and RCMP in peaceful standoff on Quadra Island ferry
RCMP boarded the ferry to Quadra Island to make a group of about 100 protestors pay their fare this afternoon.
The protestors had come across from Quadra to the Campbell River ferry terminal on the noon sailing intending to hold a rally against provincial government plans to cut routes and raise BC Ferry fares.
The rally was an extension of the March 11 protest at the provincial Legislature in Victoria. Quadra Island regional district director Jim Abram said today's rally was an opportunity to let residents up and down the coast unable to attend the Victoria rally express their opposition to the government's plans.
"We're trying to have a day of solidarity with other coastal communities to try and get the provincial government to understand what they don't understand and that is (ferry routes) need to be put back into the highway system as a marine highway," Abram said.
The protestors intended to ride across on the noon sailing of the MV Powell River Queen, walk into the ferry vehicle marshalling area, chant, sing, wave signs and then get back on. But after boarding, there was a delay of about a half an hour or so before an announcement came over the ferry's public address system that the return sailing had been cancelled due to weather.
Not long after that, five RCMP vehicles arrived and officers boarded the ferry to talk to the protestors who apparently were not planning to buy tickets. The protestors knew ahead of time that they would be expected to pay the fares but apparently refused to do so.
During a standoff of about an hour or so, the Mounties talked with the protestors who eventually began filing off the vessel, marching to the ticket booth to buy their tickets. Some disembarking passengers said they had made their point and were paying up. Once all had got their boarding passes, they got back on the ship and it sailed away without further incident.
Campbell River RCMP Staff Sgt. Troy Beauregard said, "We responded to a report of some protestors on the Quadra Island ferry."
"What we did was board and let the group voice their concerns and we had a short discussion with them," Beauregard said. "We understand that, of course, in this country we have a right to protest."
The Mounties informed the protestors that their only concern is when protests spill over into something more serious, which didn't happen in this situation.
"Everything remained peaceful," Beauregard said.