Organizers of an upcoming weekend protest at the B.C. Legislature in support of an ongoing truck convoy demonstration in Ottawa are planning on staying for days, possibly until “mandates are lifted,” CHEK News has learned.
In an exchange on Zello, a “walkie-talkie” style app that has been a primary source of communication for truck convoy protesters, a woman appearing to be an organizer of the rally said plans are being made for the event to last for days, with a “base camp” similar to Ottawa.
The organizer, “Tee Kay 2022” said organizers are working with Victoria police and permitting officials to allow for barbecues or food trucks on site.
“The VicPD are aware that the truckers are coming in and want to be down there and you know, obviously keep traffic lanes open for emergencies but that they want to come and park and stay,” she said.
NEW: In an exchange on the Zello channel being used to plan Victoria protests, organizer “Tee Kay 2022” says plans are being made for the event to last for days, with a “base camp” similar to Ottawa. #yyj @CHEK_News pic.twitter.com/6xpnqFqWua
— Keith Vass (@keithvass) February 4, 2022
The organizer also indicated protesters are looking for help from non-profits to find food for participants. CHEK News has reached out to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Victoria Police Department for comment. VicPD has confirmed that it has been in contact with protective staff at the B.C. Legislature.
Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth released a statement in advance of the legislature protest saying that the public’s right to peaceful protest will be respected , but unlawful conduct will not be tolerated.
“British Columbians have been navigating the ongoing challenges of the pandemic together, and it is unfair to have one group disrupt the lives of so many others as we are seeing in Ottawa and other cities throughout Canada,” he said.
Farnworth said that with 90 per cent of eligible British Columbians having their first vaccine show, the province is already in a position to potentially lift more restrictions by Family Day.
“For people in Victoria, I want you to be aware of the potential of a truck convoy protest heading to the legislative buildings this weekend so you and your family can plan accordingly,” he said. “We are aware of the chance of disruption to residents and businesses in the area, and planning and communication by law enforcement is underway.”
Earlier in the day, Helps issued a statement asking people taking part in the protest this weekend to respect the city following reports that some vandalized signs, used racist language and violated public health orders during the last protest.
“As the capital city, we expect protests to take place and people to exercise their democratic right to gather and express their views,” helps said.
“However, emails from residents and businesses in the wake of last weekend’s protests show that some of the people involved in the protests went beyond the right to peacefully gather and infringed on the well-being and safety of others.”
Helps said the city received reports that some homes with signs that read ‘We HEART Healthcare Workers’ were egged, and that some participants in the Jan. 29 protest used anti-Semitic and racist language.
She said there were also reports of protesters violating public health orders, including entering businesses without masks and putting employees at risk.
“Victoria is a welcoming and inclusive city. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable,” she said.
“My request is that this weekend’s protests respect the values of our city and do not promote hate or put our already struggling and much-loved local businesses at further risk.”
Saturday’s protest will see vehicles meet shortly after 6 a.m. in Campbell River in order to make it to Victoria by 11:30 a.m.
This time, there is expected to be a counter-protest at the B.C. Legislature.
“We would encourage people to bring their positivity to positive signs, their words of encouragement, words of solidarity, and their words of compassion for everyone,” Cole Treesor, one of the counter-protesters, told CHEK News.
Victoria police say they have deployed temporary CCTV cameras in public spaces to “ensure public safety” during the weekend protests.
Traffic disruptions are also anticipated in the downtown core.