Thousands gather in downtown Victoria for a truckers’ rally against pandemic restrictions

Saturday afternoon traffic jam along Douglas from uptown to downtown amid a constant, very loud chorus of truck and car horns

Hundreds of vehicles, from industrial trucks to minivans and everything in between, clogged the Trans Canada Highway and Douglas Street on Saturday afternoon as they drove to BC Parliament to join the island’s convoy and rally to deal with the massive protests in to collapse Ottawa.

Wrapped in Canadian flags and with signs calling for an end to vaccination certificates, economic restrictions and, in some cases, mandatory vaccinations, thousands of people made their way to the legislature’s lawn.

There were people in the crowd, estimated by Victoria Police at one point to be 5,000, who said they had been vaccinated but felt the restrictions and mandates had lasted long enough and it was time for the country return to normal.

Others insisted they would never receive the vaccine, calling for an end to vaccination requirements at workplaces and an end to the need to show vaccination status to enter some venues.

Crews lined up for the protest outside the Legislature early Saturday, and later in the morning hundreds were on the lawn, many carrying Canadian flags and waving at passing vehicles, which honked their horns in solidarity. This small gathering grew as the day wore on and by early afternoon Douglas Street was packed with honking vehicles from the corner of Belleville Street to the Uptown Mall.

By this time, slow-moving convoys of large trucks, heavy industrial trucks and smaller cars, starting in the early morning on the North Island, had gathered vehicles and steam through the day and reached the outskirts of Victoria. The convoys — “Convoy 4 Truckers” and a “Convoy to End Mandates” — encountering small groups of support along the way in the towns, stopped to add more bodies and vehicles before arriving in Victoria.

There were hockey sticks with flags waving from cars and tied to trucks, and more signs with targeted messages to Canadian politicians and public health officials to reverse their rules and mandates.

The rally may have represented only a small percentage of the population, but noise levels were high, with a constant background noise of honking horns while neighborhoods around the Legislature were littered with Canadian-flagged cars and others calling for politicians throughout the afternoon who stand at their windows to step back.

The rally, organized by We Unify Canada, a group that claims to be pushing for more open democracy, fielded speakers for the event including FrontLine Canada’s Kari Simpson, who has railed against vaccination mandates, and former Newfoundland Prime Minister Brian Peckford, who is part of a group seeking a judicial review of the federal transportation secretary’s decision to limit the mobility of Canadians based on their vaccination status.

Police were on site during the rally and had advised local residents that traffic in the city was being disrupted by “severe traffic congestion” and that they should avoid the area. Victoria Police spokesman Cam MacIntyre said the event was peaceful and had diminished significantly by 5:30pm

BC Transit issued a series of service bulletins throughout the day noting that service was not possible in parts of James Bay. The Legislature terminus was closed and buses instead terminated their routes near the corner of Burdett and Douglas streets.

Businesses near the Legislature reported problems with a lack of parking for regular customers, although some expected additional business from rally participants later in the day.

> Thousands gather on Parliament Hill for massive protest against vaccination regulations

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