COVID-19 lockdown protests spread into Calgary neighbourhoods

City considering upping mask fine from $100 to $500

The Walk For Freedom Alberta in Prince's Island Park. Photo credit: Spencer Yu for Livewire Calgary

Despite active COVID-19 cases being at an all time high, anti-lockdown, anti-mask and anti-vax protests have been spreading throughout the city.

Active case count numbers hit 23,600 Monday, which is the highest since the pandemic started back in early 2020. In response to the high case count, Premier Jason Kenney announced that there would likely be tighter COVID restrictions in municipalities that are experiencing these high case rates.

Those could be announced as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Groups have been conducting protests throughout the city in response to mask mandates and other health measures put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.

One of the larger groups in the area called Walk for Freedom Alberta, has amassed more than 4,000 followers on Facebook and organizes weekly marches throughout the downtown area. 

These marches claim to fight for the freedom of Canadians and go against those that are oppressing the people. However the events are held in violation of provincial health guidelines that are meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Protests spreading to community spaces

Local community activist, Michelle Robinson said a recent protest had an impact on the Forest Lawn area.

The event took place near Street Church and tensions spiked when concerned community members spoke out against the church for holding events against health guidelines. Robinson described the people involved in these protests as being irresponsible and endangering others.

“I think that they actually believe it is acceptable to do this and they have an ignorant view on science and what has happened,” she said.

Chaz Smith witnessed some of the events that took place during the Forest Lawn protests. Smith felt that many of the protesters there took things too far.

“They were trespassing into people’s front yards and backyards. They had taken over the entire road and at one point a neighbour came outside and started yelling at them because they climbed on top of his RV,” Smith said.

Smith noted that on top of the groups disregard for public health measures that have been put into place, they also had a blatant disregard for the residents of the Forest Lawn community. 

“We are talking about people that have lost respect for private property and people’s personal belongings,” Smith said.

PHOTO COURTESY: AILA MCQUEEN

Walk for Freedom Alberta was in support of this event claiming that the protest was spun up by the reporter in a manner to make the Church seem more aggressive than they actually were. They also asked their followers to message the reporter of the piece to ask them why they had “lied” about the event.

Taking COVID-19 more seriously

Mayor Naheed Nenshi spoke Monday regarding the COVID-19 situation in Calgary. He said that officials need to take action – particularly on enforcement.

“It’s incredibly frustrating and I’m really calling on the court systems and the crown to take this more seriously,” the mayor said Monday.

Nenshi also commented that it is time for people to take things into their own hands and to do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“ As frustrating as it is that people are violating the orders it doesn’t give anyone else an excuse to do so.”

“Its about keeping ourselves safe.”

At an emergency meeting yesterday, councillors also approved an increase of the mask bylaw fine from $100 to $500. That will head to a full meeting of council on May 10 for final approval.

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