Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Victoria police warn of disruptions as another convoy heads to the capital

Protesters oppose vaccine mandates and other pandemic health restrictions.
Protesters line up on Belleville Street in front of the B.C. legislature last weekend in support of the truckers convoy to Ottawa. Another convoy to the capital is planned for Saturday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST. Jan. 29, 2022

Saturday's event was smaller than the one last weekend, with Victoria police estimating the crowd at about 1,500 — well below the 5,000 who gathered a week ago. Read the full story here.

- - -

Victoria police are preparing for another large truck convoy of protesters to the legislature today — they just don’t know how large.

“We’re actually not sure of the scale and scope,” said police spokesman Bowen Osoko. “We’ve heard everything from it’ll be twice the size of last week to there are no vehicles coming at all.”

Last Saturday, hundreds of vehicles, including industrial trucks, filled the Trans-Canada Highway and Douglas Street in a convoy to the legislature, where the crowd was estimated at up to 5,000 at one point.

Protesters oppose vaccine mandates and other pandemic health restrictions.

An image shared on social media says an Island convoy will start today at 6:45 a.m. in ­Campbell River and arrive at the legislature at 11:30 a.m., after making several stops along the way. It says the convoy will stay until vaccine mandates are lifted.

Osoko said any indication people will try to stay will be handled as the situation dictates.

“We responded to just over 160 protests last year, some of which involved people looking to erect structures and stay in place for long periods of time,” he said. “We’ll respond to this protest the same as any other. We’ll respond as needed.”

Police warned Friday about possible traffic disruption around the legislature and said they plan to be at the scene to ensure public safety.

They said they have deployed temporary, monitored surveillance cameras ­downtown and in the legislature area in advance of the planned protest.

During last weekend’s protest, some local businesses raised concerns about protesters’ behaviour.

Two 911 calls were made by the general manager of the Steamship Grill and neighbouring Starbucks due to concerns about the behaviour of unmasked protesters going inside, but the calls were not treated as emergencies.

Both E-Comm, B.C.’s largest 911 call centre, and the police have contacted the caller to apologize, Osoko said.

“After concerns were brought to our attention via media and our partners at the Victoria Police Department, we conducted a full investigation into how these calls were handled by E-Comm,” E-Comm said in a statement.

“After reviewing both 911 calls, we can confirm that, based on the situation the caller was describing, a police file should have been created.

“Unfortunately, this was not the case and the caller was incorrectly referred to the non-emergency line.”

E-Comm said it understands the caller’s frustration and phoning 911 was the right thing to have done.

At the nearby Hotel Grand Pacific, general manager Reid James has brought in extra security after problems during last weekend’s event, including argumentative anti-maskers.

“At some point, we were letting people use our washrooms and then we stopped that,” James said. “Our driveway was used as a thoroughfare to turn around.”

A hotel guest list will now be used to ensure that washroom use is controlled, he said.

“We’ve done that in the past with other events.”

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said protests are not unusual in the capital city — people can “exercise their democratic right to gather and express their views” — but there are limits.

Emails from residents and businesses in the wake of last weekend’s protests show some of those involved went beyond the right to peacefully gather and infringed on the well-being and safety of others, she said. “We’ve received reports of homes with ‘We HEART Healthcare Workers’ signs being egged, people using anti-Semitic and racist language, and people violating public health orders — entering businesses without masks — putting employees at risk.”

She said Victoria is welcoming and inclusive, but behaviour like that seen last weekend is unacceptable. “My request is that this weekend’s protests respect the values of our city and do not promote hate or put our already struggling and much-loved local businesses at further risk.”

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike ­Farnworth said in a statement Friday that police will respect lawful protests, but will also “consider all the tools and options available to them to protect people, preserve public safety and investigate unlawful conduct.

“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.”

B.C. Transit is advising that the protest could affect bus schedules. People are advised to leave plenty of time for bus travel, and to stay up-to-date by going to or calling 250-382-6161.

[email protected]