Unprecedented police checkpoints dot the perimeter of B.C.’s legislature, in anticipation of an anti-vaccine mandate convoy that, according to group organizers, was supposed to arrive in Victoria Monday.
“We’ve never done this before where we’ve limited this area, but the reason was that there were communications that these groups are coming and they’re planning to stay, and there are concerns there,” said Bowen Osoko, a spokesperson for Victoria Police.
Instead, the streets of James Bay were quiet.
Victoria Police telling CHEK News they’ve dealt with less than 10 protest cars trying to gain access to the James Bay area. But regardless, the checkpoints will remain.
“These will stay in place as long as we need it,” said Osoko.
Victoria Police say they will be evaluating their response every day. But that the bill for the extra policing is already expensive.
“The cost is significant,” said Osoko, although unable to give a direct estimate.
Victoria’s Public Safety Unit is manning the checkpoints, which pulls officers from Saanich, Oak Bay, and Victoria, and takes them away from other calls in the community.
Osoko says the unit is able to shut down the area without a court order, using a number of existing legal avenues.
“There is the ability to create an exclusion zone…And under the Motor Vehicle Act there are specific sections that police are able to redirect traffic as needed to keep the flow of traffic going, as well as for public safety,” said Osoko.
“Additionally, there was an injunction that was put into place a number of years ago when a protest group attempted to block access to the B.C. Legislature. That injunction is actually still in effect.”
The majority of the convoy appears to be on the mainland, holding a small rally in Chilliwack on Sunday.
“We have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks, we have to get our camps set up,” said James Bauder, founder of Canada Unity who is organizing Bear Hug B.C.
In the video, Bauder talks about settling into these so-called ‘camps’ and calling on their supporters to network in their communities to gather supporters for future protests.
“Who here would like to see a big convoy up here from Washington?” Bauder asked the crowd to cheers, suggesting a convoy from the United States may be on its way in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the weekly convoy coordinators which have targeted the legislature Saturdays for the past two months are talking about bringing the rally this week instead, north.
“We’re thinking about doing another rally, but not on the Legislature grounds in Victoria. We’re thinking of taking the group and convoying from Victoria to Campbell River next weekend,” said Ron Clark in a Facebook video Monday.
Victoria Police say they are in direct communication with various groups coordinating all the different convoys.