As ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters descend onto BC’s Capital, Victoria police continue to block off the James Bay and BC Legislature areas on Monday to ‘protest-related’ vehicles.
While crossing “controlled access points” by foot, bicycle or public transit is allowed, that’s not enough for one protester. So much so, it prompted them to attempt to rent a local address.
“I am looking to change my address to one in James Bay to become qualified to enter the red zone,” read a since removed ad on Craigslist.
“I need one or two 31 foot parking spaces to store my ‘freedom motorhome’ and ‘freedom department services vehicle’. I am looking from Friday, March 25th to April 8th, but my stay might last for over two years based off of our two weeks to flatten the curve.”
On Saturday, VicPD announced that officers would be blocking off the area to vehicles involved in the convoy, with local traffic, including people accessing businesses or services, still allowed through.
While access points were an unexpected move, the increased police response keeps people safe and facilitates a peaceful and lawful protest environment, according to VicPD.
“Eight weeks of continuous disruptions involving vehicles, ‘slow-roll’ blockades and the use of horns, including modified air train and ship horns, has had a significant and unlawful impact on residents and businesses in James Bay and the BC Legislature area,” read a Saturday police statement.
“Related protest events in other cities have seen a recent escalation in events, including confrontations between protest groups and confrontations with police.”
Local vehicle access only points remain in place in the James Bay & @BCLegislature area. #yyjtraffic continues to flow, with 1-5min delays in the area. Thank you for your continued patience, #yyj! pic.twitter.com/Kxg5AMb3oL
— Victoria Police (@vicpdcanada) March 21, 2022
Though these access points have appeared effective, turning away around 150 protest-related vehicles over the weekend—at least one managed to nearly cruise through.
A Saturday tweet by one Victoria resident shows a photo of what appears to be one of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters, with their Canadian-flag-bearing truck stuck in a muddy grass area of Beacon Hill Park.
“It was towed and impounded, the license plates seized, and the fines for the ‘level one’ Notice and Order is $600—plus the impound and the tow costs,” VicPD spokesperson Bowen Osoko told Victoria Buzz.
Osoko says the driver, who originally claimed to have lived in James Bay, was turned away earlier in the day after attempting to cross the Dallas Road at Cook Street access point.
The driver was given “level one” notice from police the week prior, ordering their vehicle be removed from the road immediately until it was fixed in compliance with the Motor Vehicle Act, according to Osoko.
After VicPD blocked off the James Bay area to protest-related vehicles. https://t.co/vOsggNVPjG #victoriabuzz #yyj
— Victoria Buzz (@victoriabuzzes) March 20, 2022
Earlier this month, VicPD Chief Del Manak said that officers had been conducting enforcement and writing tickets for excessive noise and other infractions.
“As soon as they are infringing upon the rights of others and are in violation of the Motor Vehicle Act, then we will look at every single case,” said Manak.
He was also hopeful the convoy’s momentum would dissipate “given the latest revision and changes to the provincial health orders that have been relaxed.”
On March 11th, BC health officials repealed many remaining mandates, including the face mask requirement. By April 8th, the BC Vaccine Card requirement is also set to come to an end.
Video shows ‘Freedom Convoy’ protester being towed out of Beacon Hill Park Saturday after their vehicle got stuck in a muddy grass area of the park. The protester was attempting to get around police check points in James Bay. More: https://t.co/vOsggOdqbe#yyj #victoriabuzz pic.twitter.com/5syLR0mN2U
— Victoria Buzz (@victoriabuzzes) March 21, 2022