VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver city councillor is urging residents to ignore the reckless behaviour of anti-COVID restriction protesters who took to the streets to march Saturday.
Councillor Pete Fry is urging Vancouverites to continue following the advice of the health authority.
“To have this flagrant, in your face, anti-mask, anti-science, ridiculous, selfish behaviour is disappointing,” he says.
Hundreds gathered around noon at the Vancouver Art Gallery and around 2:30, protesters starting to march around the downtown area.
While it’s difficult to enforce orders with large crowd gatherings, Fry told NEWS 1130 it may be time the province ramps up its response to these public health and safety threats in a more assertive way.
“I know it’s a difficult situation with that many people, certainly there are tools. With further direction from the health authority, we may need to be more assertive with how we respond to those kinds of tools.”
Fry adds he is not impressed with the number of people from south of the Fraser River commuting into Vancouver to protest as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the Fraser Health region.
“It’s really disappointing to have this kind of importing into our city.”
And Fry says it’s demonstrators are being self-fish by also exposing Vancouver Police officers who have to attend the event.
Tania Visintin with the VPD explains officers support people’s right to peaceful protest whether or not they agree with what is being protested.
She says the VPD needs to exercise discretion with mass protestors violating public health orders saying public safety is the priority.
And she adds mass arrests or ticketing could escalate an already tense situation with protestors.
“This position does not automatically guarantee anyone special privileges at a protest. The bottom line is people who are contravening the public health order, they could be issued a ticket. Officers are using discretion with each situation that arises.”
Visintin adds, with large groups of people the risk of injury to both protestors and officers rises.
Saturday’s demonstration is called the BC Christmas Freedom Rally and is set to oppose government orders and restrictions around the upcoming holidays.
In October, a “Freedom Mega Rally” drew a crowd of around 1,000 people to the Vancouver Art Gallery.