A convoy of vehicles and collection of protesters unhappy with government pandemic mandates, mainstream media, vaccines, and the Prime Minister is expected to descend on Victoria once again and police are advising that traffic delays in the downtown core are expected throughout Saturday.
For the seventh Saturday in a row, a string of trucks and other vehicles boasting Canadian flags are expected to join protestors in the Capital Region, in order to voice their opinions about COVID-19 restrictions.
Victoria Police say traffic disruptions are anticipated in downtown Victoria and in the area of the BC Legislature throughout mid-Saturday morning and into the afternoon.
Police note that CCTV cameras will be deployed in support of their operations to ensure public safety.
“The ability to protest in a safe, peaceful and lawful manner is a key Canadian right that is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our role as a police department during protests is to remain neutral while we ensure that public safety and people’s rights to protest safely, peacefully and lawfully are upheld,” reads a statement from Victoria Police.
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“Dangerous and/or unlawful acts will be met with de-escalation and enforcement, including Criminal Code, Motor Vehicle Act and Municipal Bylaw investigations.”
Victoria Police are also emphasizing that the Inner Harbour and surrounding area is a controlled airspace and that drones are prohibited. Transport Canada prohibits the use of drones as they pose a risk to aircraft and bystanders. Victoria Police says it may take enforcement action to prevent drone operation.
While police are planning to be present in the area throughout the day, VicPD is acknowledging that there may be disruptions.
“We have heard and understand the concerns of James Bay residents during recent protest events and will continue to work to minimize disruptions in the area. Thank you to James Bay residents for your ongoing patience,” reads a statement from VicPD.
Last weekend, more violation tickets were issued by VicPD — some being mailed to drivers after the event — including infractions for excessive noise and obstructing traffic.
Since the “freedom convoy” first began its march to Ottawa, countless other support convoys and protests have since sprouted up in cities nationwide and at border crossings. What first began as a demand to end a federal government vaccine mandate for truckers returning to Canada, has morphed into a broader protest against all other COVID-19 restrictions, mainstream media, and the government. The movement attracted a cross-section of people including alt-right groups and controversial figures.
Earlier this week, B.C. lifted its mandate on masks as well as provided details of when the vaccine passport program would come to an end.
There is also a growing concern among local residents that a larger protest — being dubbed ‘BearHug BC’ — could be arriving and occupying the Capital Regional District as early as next week.