Police in West Vancouver were called to meet a B.C. Ferries vessel as it docked in Horseshoe Bay on Saturday after people opposed to public-health restrictions aimed at fighting the spread of COVID-19 caused disturbances on board.
B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said the group of so-called anti-maskers — about 50 in all — departed from Nanaimo at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and it is believed they were heading to an event in Vancouver dubbed the “freedom rally.”
Midway through the journey, more than a dozen members of the group got into a heated argument with other passengers.
“Some of the group became verbally abusive toward other passengers and caused a disturbance on the ship,” Marshall said.
“We will not tolerate such behaviour. The incident was both inconvenient and upsetting for our passengers.”
She said police were called and the unruly passengers were met by members of the West Vancouver Police when the ferry docked.
“We have a mandatory mask policy on all our ships and we expect all passengers to abide by the rules,” Marshall said.
The disturbance resulted in a delay in disembarking as police pulled those involved aside at the dock.
Subsequent sailings were delayed by about 45 minutes.
B.C. Ferries banned members of the anti-mask group for the rest of the day.
“They can find another way home,” Marshall said.
Police in West Vancouver could not be reached for comment.
The crowd at Saturday’s Vancouver rally was estimated at about 1,000 at its peak.
Videos posted to Twitter showed a crowd bearing anti-mask and anti-vaccine messages rallying outside the art gallery in Vancouver.
A Facebook page for the event indicated that a second rally is planned for today.
— With a file from The Canadian Press