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All rainbows on controversial North Vancouver overpass

Only counter protesters occupied the Mountain Highway overpass this week. The original demonstrator group said they moved to another nearby interchange

The North Shore’s most controversial strip of concrete was all in rainbows this week.

For the first time in 12 months, no members of a regular demonstrator group gathered on the Mountain Highway overpass in North Vancouver on Thursday. The message has gone from anti-vaccination conspiracy theories to, lately, attacking sexual orientation and gender identity policies.

Despite an injunction issued by B.C. Supreme Court in May to stop the occupations, the group continued to gather on the structure. But in recent weeks, a growing contingent of counter protesters has showed up, flying various flags of the pride movement.

Decades-long activist Chris Bolton – known widely for his drag persona Conni Smudge – joined the counter protest last week, and returned this week.

“I don’t want to be here right now, because No. 1, it’s 30 degrees and I’m bald; and frankly, No. 2, look at the traffic jam … last thing I want to do is create an accident or anything like that,” he said.“But I couldn’t let all those hateful words be the only voice that North Vancouver and the North Shore hear. I just couldn’t do it. And it’s going global – people are picking this up. So we have to be a beacon of light. We have to be."

The group originally occupying the overpass – whose messaging has been condemned as hateful by local mayors, the RCMP and Premier David Eby – moved to another nearby structure.

“We were trying to wait them out because they’re really confusing our message,” said Robert Webb, a Lynn Valley resident. Instead, he and a group of around 10 people set up on the Keith Road overpass.

“It’s been a good year. We may come back again at some point,” he said.

At a council meeting in June, District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little said that he has been talking with the Ministry of Transportation – which has jurisdiction over the highway interchanges – about how they can “improve their response,” which he said should include stopping demonstrations on all North Shore bridges.

So far, no arrests have been made in connection with the demonstrations. North Vancouver RCMP says its priority is public safety and facilitating peaceful demonstrations in line with Charter rights.