Rail line cleared, 3 arrests made after protest in Toronto’s west end: police [UPDATED]
The blockade threatened to delay morning commutes west of the city, but police say the rail line has been cleared and most commuter rail lines were running on time or with minor delays
TORONTO — An ongoing protest in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation disrupted freight train traffic in central Ontario on Feb. 26 even as commuter rail service previously thrown into turmoil in other parts of the province resumed business as usual.
The latest disruption took place in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., not far from the scene of a major Ontario Provincial Police operation earlier in the week that dismantled a blockade that had thwarted all train traffic in the area for more than two weeks.
OPP spokesman Bill Dickson said a handful of protesters lit fires near and on railway tracks at a secondary camp that remained in place after the Feb. 24 raid.
He said Canadian National Railway Co. began inspecting the tracks after police and firefighters extinguished the blaze.
Further west, the agency responsible for a major commuter rail service covering much of southern Ontario said it was not anticipating any of the delays and cancellations that brought trains to a standstill during the Tuesday rush hour.
Metrolinx, operator of the GO Transit network, suspended service on multiple routes as a series of protests sprang up in and around Toronto.
City police said they arrested three people at the demonstrations in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline cutting across their traditional territory.
Police said in a tweet that officers provided protesters with an injunction and began moving them from rail tracks. They said most were co-operative, but “arrests were made when necessary.”
The blockade threatened to delay morning commutes west of the city, but police said the rail line has been cleared and most commuter rail lines were running on time or with minor delays.
Demonstrators also set up new sites in Ontario and Quebec this week, though some dispersed or were dismantled in less than a day.
A protest at a Hamilton GO station caused numerous cancellations and delays starting Monday evening, but local police said protesters left the blockade site in the city peacefully at around 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Other new disruptions that surfaced Tuesday included a blockade along a highway near the site of an ongoing land dispute in Caledonia, Ont., and one along a stretch of rail in Sherbrooke, Que., about 150 kilometres east of Montreal.
Police moved in to end the Sherbrooke blockade on Feb. 25, arresting protesters who had blocked a rail line in the city’s Lennoxville district. The protest along Highway 6 in Ontario remains active.
Several high-profile blockades were also dismantled by police in B.C. and Ontario earlier this week.
Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has said Ottawa is still committed to peacefully resolving the situation that has hampered freight and passenger travel in much of the country for nearly three weeks.