COUTTS, Alta. — An RCMP spokesman says there’s no way to predict when the protest at Alberta’s main border crossing will end but he understands the public’s growing frustration as it drags on.
Demonstrators began parking their trucks and other vehicles last Saturday near the crossing at Coutts, Alta., in solidarity with similar events in Ottawa and other locations to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and broader public health measures.
The impasse stranded travellers and cross-border truckers for days, compromised millions of dollars in trade and impeded access to basic goods and medical services for area residents.
An agreement with the protesters opened up a single lane in both directions on Highway 4 and truckers hauling cargo were finally able to cross the border into the U.S.
Coutts Mayor Jim Willett has called for the protest to end and says it has cut off village residents from medical services.
RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters said he understands why people are upset since it has been nearly a week.
“We hear their frustrations. I understand that,” Peters said Thursday.
“I’ve spoken several times about how this has affected the town of Coutts and the town of Sweetgrass (Montana). We continue working toward bringing this to an end.”
Peters said he doesn’t know what is going to happen next in the dispute because every single incident is different, nor can he say if police intend to take action to deal with what he calls an “unlawful protest.”
“I don’t have a line in the sand. This is a constant state of evolving evaluation right? This changes minute by minute, hour by hour,” he said.
“The one thing that does stay consistent throughout is the constant dialogue that we’re having.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2022.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press