Residents in downtown Victoria have been raising concerns around the so-called “Freedom Convoy” that has been taking place weekly at the B.C. Legislature since January.
According to James Bay resident Nevin Thompson, many of his neighbours feel unsafe and unwelcome in the city and choose to hide away every weekend to avoid the protestors.
“The noise is maddening. We cannot stay in our house,” he said.
“It’s terrible. It makes me feel anxious. It makes me feel stressful. It makes me angry,” he continued.
Thompson said many locals reached out to him online, sharing their negative experiences with the protestors.
He said his neighbours are fed up and the city must do something to better protect the community, especially marginalized groups who Thompson says are most targeted.
“We are not in government. We have nothing to do with anything that they’re talking about. We just live here,” he explained.
Fellow James Bay resident Bruce Korinetz described the group as threatening and aggressive.
“They said that I’ve been brainwashed. That’s why I’ve been wearing a mask. And they’ll laugh at you for wearing a mask. Yeah, and it’s just intimidating,” he said, adding that he wears a mask for his son who’s going through chemotherapy.
“It’s upsetting that they don’t realize there are people in compromised positions that need to wear a mask. They don’t seem to care about anybody but themselves,” Korinetz said.
He and Thompson question why people are still protesting after the province lifted several mandates, including the mandatory mask policy.
Protestors that attended the convoy on Saturday said not all mandates have been lifted, including the ability to travel by plane.
Traffic was congested in downtown Victoria on Saturday soon after the Victoria Police Department announced that it will be controlling access to the James Bay area effective immediately in preparation for planned protests expected to hit the Capital Region next week.
VicPC stated that vehicle access to the area will be limited to local vehicles only.
While many online expressed their appreciation, thanking police for clearing the area, others weren’t too happy.
“We aren’t impressed by the local police department for blocking Douglas and Belleville from the truckers to do a peaceful rally around the legislature. So, shame on the Victoria Police Department,” said one participant of the convoy Zello channel.
Thompson, on the other hand, said this is a good first step in acknowledging the community’s grief and they are one step closer to a more peaceful and quiet weekend at home.