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HomeBusinessSave Old Growth protester sentenced to three weeks house arrest

Save Old Growth protester sentenced to three weeks house arrest

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Bob Mackin

A Save Old Growth protester who illegally blocked the highway to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal and chained himself to the door of a Vancouver Royal Bank was sentenced to 21 days of house arrest.

Hisao Ichikawa with a chain around his neck at an RBC bank (Instagram)

Hisao Ichikawa, 81, pleaded guilty in Vancouver Provincial Court Aug. 25 to three counts of mischief and one charge of breaching an undertaking to not obstruct a roadway. Judge Patricia Stark also ordered Ichikawa to serve 12 months probation, perform 50 hours community service work, stay away from all RBC locations and not block any vehicles or pedestrians.

“During your house arrest hours, I hope you reflect on the fact that you will not be free to wander in the community, that essentially is a jail sentence that you are allowed to serve in your home,” Stark told Ichikawa. She emphasized that a breach of any condition would mean arrest and the possibility of finishing the sentence in a correctional facility. 

Ichikawa was part of Save Old Growth’s 30-minute roadblock at the Grandview Highway on-ramp to the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 10 and 45-minute roadblock of the Upper Levels Highway near Horseshoe Bay on Jan. 31. On each occasion, he disobeyed police. 

Ichikawa arrived in one of two protest vehicles that blocked westbound traffic in West Vancouver. He proceeded to sit on the highway with a Save Old Growth sign with two others who glued their hands to the pavement. At the same time, other Save Old Growth protesters did the same on the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge. 

“Traffic had backed up for about two kilometres was preventing traffic from accessing the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal via the highway,” Stark said. “Fire and ambulance crews were requested to assist with the glue under the guidance of fire department members.”

Hisao Ichikawa’s April 7 arrest at an RBC bank (Instagram)

On April 7, Ichikawa chained his neck to the door of the Royal Bank at Hornby and Nelson streets, across from the Law Courts, to protest the bank’s financing of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Employees stuck inside called police at 9:30 a.m. Ichikawa refused to remove the chain from his neck and only answered “I’ll think about it” when police asked him to remove the chain. Firefighters attended, but Ichikawa, assisted by his daughter, finally removed the chain at 10:46 a.m.

“One of the conditions on the undertaking imposed on Mr. Ichikawa on January 10 was to only engage in protests that are safe, lawful and peaceful in nature,” Stark said. “And his actions were not that not so on that day, they were not lawful and they created a safety hazard for those inside the bank, who only had one remaining emergency exit. The fire department confirmed this was a safety issue, as it would delay in accessing the bank.”

The court heard that Ichikawa has a history of protesting, most-recently in a march for Save Old Growth-affiliated Stop Fracking Around that closed northbound lanes of the Cambie Bridge. Ichikawa was sentenced in August 2018 to seven days in jail for breaching the Trans Mountain Pipeline construction site injunction on Burnaby Mountain. Among his six fellow defendants was Jean Swanson, who was later elected to Vancouver city council. 

The judge said Ichikawa’s guilty plea, age and difficult upbringing in Japan were mitigating factors. He completed his high school education at age 24 and came to Canada three years later, where he started a family and worked as a fisherman and bricklayer. Stark said Ichikawa has dedicated himself to reducing waste and living harmoniously with the environment and is “deeply remorseful.”

“He indicated that he did not properly reflect on the gravity of the impact of the blockades on others, but has come to recognize the risks associated with blocking, for instance, Emergency Health Services from getting where they need to go to provide primary urgent care to other members of the community in need,” Stark said.

Stark sentenced Ichikawa the day after she gave 19-year-old Olivia Mary Howe a conditional discharge, 18 months probation and six months curfew. Court heard that senior members of Extinction Rebellion and Save Old Growth, who either have criminal records or are facing similar charges, bullied her into the illegal roadblocks.

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