Frustrations are boiling over due to reported noise and disturbance caused by a group of anti-vaccine mandate protesters at the Pacific Highway Border Crossing in South Surrey.
Protesters started to gather in the Creative Kids Learning Centre parking lot at 388 175a St. Monday morning and have remained there since.
Protesters are using the parking lot – which accommodates a plaza of several other businesses – to park their vehicles while they stand on a sidewalk adjacent to the highway. The group has not blocked vehicle access to the border.
Creative Kids owner Sandra Christian contacted Peace Arch News to voice her frustration about not only the protesters, but the inaction from Surrey RCMP and City of Surrey bylaw.
“They are right in the parking lot of my childcare centre,” Christian said. “They are honking their horns, they’re screaming and yelling, they’re playing music… We have babies trying to sleep, we have children that need to play outside.”
Christian said tow truck companies won’t remove the protesters’ vehicles from the parking lot without police presence.
“The police are kind of just wiping their hands clear, bylaws won’t do a fricken thing because they are on private property, but yet they are not,” she said.
Christian said the protesters have set up portable toilets, tents, and heaters.
“They said they are not moving until the mandate has changed.”
Tuesday morning, there were about 40 to 50 protesters in the area.
George Diszhazy, who came from North Vancouver, told PAN that they are peaceful.
“We’re going to use Gandhi’s approach to this. It’s the only way to go. You have to show that we are peaceful and we love freedom and that’s the way we’re going to win this,” Diszhazy said.
Diszhazy said the protesters are there to “defend Canada’s freedom.”
“A lot of people are not noticing that freedom is slipping away.”
He noted that he’s not anti-vaccine, rather he’s anti-mandate.
“Please don’t force me to take something that I don’t want to take. I don’t trust Big Pharma. I didn’t trust Big Pharma before all of this happened and I sure don’t trust them now, either,” he said.
Surrey RCMP Cpl. Vanessa Munn said police are actively monitoring the situation at the border to ensure public safety.
Munn said RCMP are attempting to engage with the protest organizers to see if they can come to an agreement to relocate the protest away from the daycare centre.
“We do try to find some middle ground because we have a job to do, but we also respect the fact that they have the right to protest, but they also don’t have the right to disrupt other people’s business or enjoyment of their property,” Munn said.
Munn said if people in the area observe illegal activity, they should immediately contact RCMP and file a police report.
Munn agreed that protesters using private property to park their vehicles does add to the challenge.
“It’s not something police can enforce, unfortunately.”
Munn described enforcement of the protest as a “fine line.”
“However, with that said, if people are being negatively impacted by the protest, observing criminal activity, we are encouraging them to make a police report. Our officers continue to be actively engaged and we will take enforcement actions as required,” Munn said.
The City of Surrey did not respond to a request for comment by press deadline.
The protest at the Pacific Highway border was inspired by a protest in the nation’s capital.
A convoy of trucks has locked down sections of Ottawa in protest of the federal government mandate on vaccination for truckers entering and exiting the country.
The “Freedom Convoy 2022,” which is costing Ottawa Police more than $800,000 per day, has been ongoing since Jan. 29.