Bloor Viaduct protest

Protesters have completely blocked off Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct

Just in time for rush hour on Monday morning, hundreds of climate change activists have barricaded themselves across a major four-lane bridge in the heart of Canada's largest city.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Toronto, the local arm of an environmental protest group with demonstrations taking place across the world today, shut down traffic on the Prince Edward Viaduct between Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue around 8 a.m. on Monday morning.

Members of the group formed blockages on both sides of the truss bridge with their bodies and props, including a larger-than-life set of letters reading "ACT NOW."

Toronto Police tried to guide motorists away from the intersection, but many drivers got caught up in grid lock traffic anyway — and they weren't pleased.

"If all these protesters/ activists were out planting trees and picking up garbage instead of blocking traffic, They would have more impact on the climate," sniped one on Twitter. "Instead, you're making drivers idle in their car."

"Protesters are blocking traffic by sitting in their idling cars," wrote another. "I think these idiots are missing the point."

On the contrary: Blocking off traffic was meant to drive home the true point of the global movement.

"We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused today. We are not attempting to shame or blame drivers," reads a statement posted to the Extinction Rebellion Toronto Facebook group shortly after 8 a.m. on Monday. 

"We all live in a toxic system and have few good options in our daily lives without system change, but in a car-dependent city interfering with traffic is one of the best ways of interfering with business as usual."

"The challenge of global warming is that by the time it hits, it will be too late to change," continues the statement. "So we are hoping to interfere with business as usual now, in order to save the future."

Toronto is one of more than 60 cities participating in what XR calls an "international rebellion" across the globe October 7.

The larger Extinction Rebellion movement started in the U.K. around October of 2018 and bills itself as "an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse."

This morning's is not the first protest staged in Toronto on behalf of the movement: In recent months, XR demonstrators have blocked off traffic at Yonge-Dundas Square, staged a mass die-in outside the CNE and disrupted a TIFF red carpet, among other actions.

It is not yet known how long the Bloor Viaduct protest will last, but protesters were still encouraging their friends to come out and participate as of 9:15 a.m. on Monday morning.

Lead photo by

Martin Reis

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