RCMP update on access control checkpoint on Morice West Forest Service Road

THE access control checkpoint was set up late in the morning on January 13 at the 27 kilometer mark on the Morice West Forest Service Road. As frontline police officers were implementing the new access procedure on the first day, there was some miscommunication that resulted in three individuals being turned away, said the RCMP on Wednesday in an update on the situation.

In one case the person would not provide basic details such as identification and purpose of travel, and in another case, there was a shift in weather conditions as nightfall approached. In the third case, another person transporting food and supplies, was not initially allowed access. Rather than turning the person away, the police officer at the checkpoint made arrangements for the supplies to be transported in by an alternate person. However, both individuals decided not to proceed and left the area.

“The procedures have since been clarified and we have not had any reports of further issues and most individuals have been able to proceed. Based on a review by the Operations Commander, RCMP officers appeared to be acting professionally and in good faith. If there are public complaints made, we will ensure full disclosure of all information regarding the interaction including the video captured by police,” said the RCMP.

The RCMP said it would like to emphasize that this checkpoint is not an exclusion zone, which are created when police are enforcing a civil injunction. At this point, they are not enforcing the BC Supreme Court injunction to allow time for dialogue between the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, Elected Councils, Coastal GasLink and government.

The access control checkpoint is a measured response that reflects the need to prevent further escalation of the situation including the placement of hazards along the roadway and the creation of a third encampment blocking access. It also allows the RCMP to be accountable for the safety of all persons accessing this area given the hazards, unplowed roads and severe winter conditions, the RCMP said.