As the so-called “Freedom Convoy” is now a weekly occurrence in Victoria, neighbours are getting fed up.
“I’m pretty tired of the noise, I think that the call for freedom is really strange when what they’re doing is showing real contempt for the neighbours,” said Barb Whitney, who lives across the street.
On Saturday night, Whitney says demonstrators took it a step further than incessant honking, by illegally parking overnight and partying in a grassy area beside the retirement home where she and many others live.
“I was totally shocked. They had an open fire, they stayed overnight. It was a real camping event for them,” said Whitney. “I can’t believe that it’s legal. I didn’t see anybody come by to put a stop to it.”
Other neighbours told CHEK News this had been happening the last couple of weeks.
The parking lot and grassy area are owned by West Park. Representatives told CHEK News they were unaware of its use and will be sending ticketers, but an even bigger problem may be on the way.
“We’re coming to defend your lawful freedom of choice,” said James Bauder, founder of Canada Unity and one of the organizers of Freedom Convoy 2022 to Ottawa.
Led by Bauder, a new convoy is starting up with the City of Victoria its final destination on Monday March 14.
“We’re going to be occupying that area for two to three months. This is a very intense deeply rooted NDP/Liberal stronghold down there, and they’ve had their way for too long,” Bauder posted to Canada Unity’s Facebook page.
The convoy, dubbed ‘Bear Hug BC’ has targeted B.C. because of its still-standing vaccine and mask mandates.
On Thursday, B.C. health officials are expected to reveal a road map for reducing pandemic restrictions.
Regardless, the convoy has set off from Thunder Bay, making its way across Western Canada before reaching Victoria March 14.
“We’re going to attack this lawfully. Everything that we’re going to do is 100 per cent going to be legal. We will not be doing blockades,” said Bauder.
“We’ve taken a lot of lessons learned [from Ottawa] and to apply it to the operation ‘Bear Hug BC’ campaign so that we can be very streamlined, very professional.”
The group is promising a ‘rolling convoy,’ meaning continuous.
The announcement of this new convoy prompted a warning from Victoria’s Member of Parliament.
“For the people who are wanting to come to peacefully protest, they have every right to do so. But for people who are wanting to come to recreate what happened in Ottawa: to occupy our city, to impact our small businesses, to harass our citizens — that is unacceptable and they are not welcome here,” said Laurel Collins, MP for Victoria.
Victoria Police say they’ll be handling the convoy like they do other protests.
“Our approach to protests is two-fold: we protect public safety and ensure that people are able to exercise their rights to safe, peaceful, and lawful protest. Dangerous and/or unlawful acts are responded to with de-escalation and enforcement,” said Cst. Cam MacIntyre in a statement to CHEK News.
Meanwhile, legislative security says they are keeping a close eye on any developments.
“We can confirm that we are aware and monitoring the situation,” the Office of the Clerk told CHEK News in a statement.
A previous article said the convoy was leaving Thunder Bay March 14, it’s been corrected. The convoy plans to arrive in Victoria March 14.