Burnaby residents are expressing relief that a so-called “freedom convoy” protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates has been cancelled for this Saturday.
The protest was set to roll into Burnaby on Saturday and take a route that would have ended up at the Burnaby headquarters of Global TV at 7850 Enterprise, just north of Lougheed Highway.
“Whey, such a relief. After seeing these protests clogging up our streets with vehicles, I’m relieved that it’s not coming here,” wrote Gina, an area resident. “And we’ve seen counter protesters blocking their path and it’s just a matter of time before we see violence.”
Action4Canada cancelled its "Global News Rally" to hold another demonstration at the Canada-U.S. border. These rallies have targeted media outlets with a cry of the “media is the virus.”
“I’ll sleep better knowing this isn’t coming to Burnaby,” wrote North Burnaby resident Kevin. “I was thinking of joining a counter protest but am glad I won’t have to do that now.”
While it is unclear exactly when the demonstration will commence or if it will follow the Feb. 12 route, the Global News rally organizer James Davison wrote in a Facebook post that the group was pivoting its plan.
"The convoy is still a go but we are going to 176th," he wrote, adding that "all hands must be on deck."
On Feb. 12 a group of anti-vaccine mandate protesters headed to a Surrey border crossing. The protesters schedule had them depart Chilliwack at 10 a.m. between the Tim Hortons and Kal Tire at the Lickman Exit. Following this, the convoy merged onto the Trans Canada Highway heading west and then took Exit 53 to Highway 15. Participants then headed southbound and then drive to 8th Avenue and 176 Street which leads to the Pacific Highway border crossing.
Surrey RCMP spokesperson Cnst. Sarbjit K. Sangha told Glacier Media in a phone interview that police are monitoring the situation but aren't releasing specific details about their plans.
"We've been planning since the start of last week," she explained. "At this point, we have checkpoints in place. We have contingencies and we are monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis."
Police are checking all commercial vehicles that are going through the area daily and not just when protests are scheduled, added Sangha.
On Feb. 12, a couple of vehicles went through the barricades and 16 people were arrested over two days for mischief and intimidation, she said.
A previous "freedom" convoy demonstration on Feb. 5 in downtown Vancouver was the scene of multiple clashes between anti-vaccine mandate trucker protesters and counter-protesters, with photos and video on social media showing a variety of conflicts.
- With files from Brendan Kergin and Elana Sheper, Vancouver is Awesome