Participants in the latest Langley-based protest convoy against vaccine mandates were greeted by blocked-off entrances and security guards at a parking lot in North Langley at 200th Street and 91A Avenue, where they were planning to gather before heading into Vancouver.
“We’ve got to figure something out,” a frustrated organizer was overheard saying.
“We’re going to have 300 trucks here in 10 minutes.”
The lot had been the jumping-off point for a previous protest convoy on Saturday, Jan. 29.
Some vehicles ended up parking at neighbouring parking lots while others stopped along the streets next to the blocked-off lot or kept circling until the start of the drive into Vancouver.
Almost all of the vehicles were smaller trucks, along with cars and a few RVS, plus at least 20 big rigs.
Fort Langley resident Katie Molloy viewed the move to block protesters as a sign the campaign is having an impact.
“Obviously, we’re doing something right,” Molloy commented.
“And we will not stop,” added Nicole Reyse from Abbotsford.
The convoy participants were also greeted by a one-man protest staged by Langley resident Brad Burns, who was seated on a camping chair in the middle of the road with a pro-Trudeau sign.
“I want them to know that they don’t represent me,” Burns told the Langley Advance Tines, calling the demonstration “ridiculous.”
One convoy participant, a man in a pickup truck, objected when Burns refused to get out of the way.
“This is illegal,” the driver fumed. “You’re a mean person, brother.”
Another participant, who asked not to be named, directed traffic around Burns and urged drivers to stay calm.
“I think the people out here are emotional,” the man said. “Canadians don’t talk to each other, that’s the problem.”
Police eventually prevailed upon Burns to relocate to the side of the road for safety.
In the week leading up to Saturday, the event was advertised as a “Media is the virus” convoy. Some at the protest said it was to protest coverage of the Ottawa demonstration against vaccine mandates last weekend, while others said it was to show support for lifting vaccine mandates.
Health officials around the world, including the World Health Organization and Health Canada have been encouraging all to get two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and when eligible a booster shot.
In B.C., 90 per cent of eligible people five and older have received their first dose and 85 per cent their second shot.
Provincial health stats indicate that 946 people are in hospital and a further 139 are in intensive care battling the respirartory disease. From Jan. 20 to Feb. 2, non-vaccinated and partially vaccinated people accounted 26 per cent and five per cent of hospitalizations, respectively.
Saturday’s protest was one of several anti-mandate events happening across the country, with demonstrations also expected in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec City.
It came one day after GoFundMe announced a $10 million fund to support the Ottawa convoy was being shut down, after $1 million was disbursed, due to what the online company called a violation of their terms of service.
“We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity,” the statement read.
In a statement Friday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said police will be watching this weekend of protests to ensure lawful demonstrating.
“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.
“We understand the strain of this pandemic, but we must come together to beat COVID-19. With 90 per cent of eligible people in B.C. having their first vaccine shot, we are moving close to a new milestone on potentially lifting more restrictions by Family Day.”
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