Police and city officials are anticipating major delays and traffic congestion in Edmonton’s downtown core Friday, as 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg joins a climate strike at the provincial legislature.
The Swedish activist is known for sparking climate protests across the globe.
Organizers say they’re excited Thunberg will appear, hoping she will use her influence to advocate for alternative energy sources in Alberta.
“I’m excited that she is coming to stand in solidarity with us, right in the heart of our country,” said Veronica Fuentes, an environmentalist with the group Beaver Hills Warriors.
“I welcome her to the community, to stand with young people who share her platform, to centre all the incredible work being done in Alberta and in Indigenous communities,” she said.
Thunberg is expected to appear at the legislature at noon MT. Organizers expect thousands will attend the strike.
Organizer Olivier Adkin-Kaya says the intention is to advocate for a transition away from fossil fuels.
“To the oil workers … we’re not your enemy. What we’re pushing for is not for a bunch of people to lose their jobs,” he said.
“We’re pushing for a just transition, which means we want to guarantee income security to all the oil workers and we don’t want to leave anyone behind.”
Thunberg’s appearance will also be met with a counter-protest, organized by the pro-oil and gas group United We Roll, which is travelling from Red Deer in a convoy. About 25 trucks had assembled early Friday morning, with plans to hit the road to Edmonton by about 7 a.m.
Demonstrators are meeting at Beaver Hills House Park at 11 a.m. and will march to the legislature by noon.
Edmonton Police Service said they will be treating the rally as any other major city event and a police presence will be at the legislature.
“The presence of Ms. Thunberg does not change the EPS’ priorities,” a police statement said.
“Traffic congestion in the downtown core is expected to be significant during the rally and protest. The EPS suggests that citizens be mindful of this and make plans to take other routes.”
The City of Edmonton also said it’s making preparations for the climate march. It’s advising drivers to take an alternative route other than Jasper Ave.