Police open road near Co-op Refinery

After a week of traffic restrictions, a road running alongside the Co-op Refinery Complex is again open to all motorists.


After a week of traffic restrictions, a road running alongside the Co-op Refinery Complex is again open to all motorists.

In a media release issued early Friday morning, police announced officers are no longer limiting the flow of vehicles along 9th Avenue North from Winnipeg Street to McDonald Street.

The stretch of 9th Avenue N. between Winnipeg Street and McDonald Street is re-opened to the public in Regina on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post

In his first media availability in two weeks, Regina Police Chief Evan Bray reiterated his position that the police service needed to balance its response “in a way that … wouldn’t escalate the situation.”

Bray said the RPS “took some tactical approaches as we moved through the last couple of weeks that limited the number of cars in there, that limited the number of people in there, and when we got to the point where felt like we could take control over a segment of road that would allow not only the free access to the upgrader site but also — equally important — allow Unifor to exercise their rights, the court order allowed them to stop vehicles for up to 10 minutes and so we wanted to create a space for that to happen but where blockades didn’t exist.”

On the night of Feb. 6, police parked cruisers at main intersections near the CRC and maintained the closure into Friday, allowing Co-op fuel trucks to pass through a police checkpoint as officers checked the drivers’ names.

“Vehicles not related to the operation of the businesses in the area will not be permitted,” the Regina Police Service (RPS) said in its release, adding the closure was needed to “make the site safe and remove materials (that) could potentially be used to create an illegal barrier.”

The labour dispute between Co-op and Unifor Local 594 escalated on Jan. 20 when national union boss Jerry Dias vowed to block any trucks or replacement workers from the refinery.While pensions were the main sticking point in negotiations, the barricade became the focus of the lock-out, with Co-op refusing to meet at the bargaining table until the blockade was removed. The barricade also stood in the way of Moe’s offer to appoint a special mediator, which he followed through with on Wednesday.

The blockades were called illegal by Federated Co-operatives Ltd., Regina Mayor Michael Fougere and Bray. 

Earlier in the week, a Regina judge fined Unifor 594 $250,000 for contempt of court and ordered community service for one member of the local executive. In a decision released on Wednesday, Justice Neil Robertson of Regina’s Court of Queen’s Bench found repeated breaches of a December court injunction limiting delays at the refinery gates. He called the evidence “overwhelming.”