Weekly unrest due to continuing anti-government, anti-mandate and Beltline counter-protests was largely limited this weekend.
Dozens of police officers were on hand to enforce the City of Calgary’s court injunction. That injunction was obtained on Friday, preventing the kind of protests that have been seen in recent weeks in the Beltline.
While a quiet Beltline counter-protest took place at Lougheed House, and a more subdued “freedom” protest at Central Memorial Park transformed into a City Hall protest, they stayed clear of 17 Avenue SW which has become an inflection point in the past several weeks.
President of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, Peter Oliver, said that this was a “small victory” for residents and businesses.
“And we’re happy to take it,” he said.
The BNA will be watching in the coming weeks to see how the protests evolve.
“Today’s a pretty significant win, but next week is still another week, and we don’t want to be back to square one a week from now.”
For shoppers and patrons of Beltline businesses, the lack of marching was a relief. Several told LWC that they were happy to be able to enjoy the patios again. And for one, the biggest complaint of a baby crying was a sign of a return to business as usual.
Calgary-Buffalo MLA calls for provincial injunction
Calgary-Buffalo MLA, and former Minister of Finance, Joe Ceci called on the provincial government to obtain their own injunction.
“I think it would add weight to the municipal one, is my understanding,” he said.
A provincial injunction, said Ceci, could add to the legal and financial tools available to the City of Calgary to enforce the injunction.
Ceci also called on the provincial government to provide greater financial supports to the city, to cover the escalating costs of policing the weekly protests.
“I think the province could help with the huge costs that the City of Calgary experiences with the dozens and dozens and dozens of police officers and enforcement personnel and bylaw personnel that are unfortunately needing to spend time here as opposed to addressing the crime situation or other situations in this province,” he said.
He also called on Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro to provide regular protest impact reports to the legislature.
Earlier in the week, Ceci put online a number of complaints received from area residents. It expanded on Coun. Walcott’s request that residents send Beltline protest complaints to Calgary 311.
Ceci said that he believed that the experiences of Beltline residents, along with other reports and evidence provided to the city played a part in helping obtain court injunction.
“I think all of these things together have gotten the city to the point where they have brought the injunction forward and got it passed right away…”
Calgary police make arrests
The Calgary Police Service made a number of arrests throughout the day’s events. Police arrested six people, including one for assaulting a police officer.
Chief Constable Mark Neufeld said that four arrests were made at Central Memorial Park for breaching the City of Calgary injunction. Another person was arrested on outstanding warrants.
Another was arrested downtown after breaching the court injunction for honking horns along Macleod Trail.
“There was people moving in, manoeuvring to put themselves in a position to engage in conflict with somebody from the other side. So, you know, that doesn’t bode well,” he said.
“To be frank, we ended up having to push people out of Central Memorial Park at the end of the day.”
Chief Neufeld said that all of the arrests were from the anti-government, anti-mandate protest group. He said that further tickets and arrests would follow.
Chief Neufeld said that the police service was committed to bringing back peace into communities. He said that the police have seen where the protests have pushed the boundaries of Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“There’s portions of both groups that actually want to comply, and then we have portions of both groups that actually do not want to comply. Again, that’s a tension that we’re managing there,” he said.
Central Memorial Protest begins early
Members of the so-called Freedom Convoy arrived early in Calgary on Saturday. Semi-truck cabs and campers arrived at Central Memorial Park at 2:27 a.m. That was far before the roads to the area were closed by police.
The vast majority of vehicles were from out of province. Trucks from B.C., Ontario, and Manitoba were among the vehicles that were parked early in the city.
Calgary Police tweeted that they were on scene prior to 8:30 a.m. to determine whether the vehicles were lawfully parked.
The frequent merchandise tents that have sprung up at the Central Memorial protests were also taken down early on Saturday. For 10 minutes, vendors had their tents up before being asked by police to remove them. Throughout the day, the only tables present at the protest were attended by representatives of the People’s Party of Canada. That was not a prohibited activity under the court injunction.
Significant police presence was on hand throughout 12 Avenue SW to monitor the protest, and the service enacted road closures in conjunction with Alberta Sheriffs and City of Calgary Bylaw officers.
Lougheed House protest ‘a nice, quiet time in the park’
Following calls to have a “a nice, quiet day in the park,” by Community Solidarity in Calgary, Beltline counter-protesters largely did just that.
Compared to last Saturday, the police presence at Lougheed House was light, and the mood was lighter. A number of counter-protesters even took advantage of the nice weather to have a picnic.
By early afternoon the bulk of anti-government, anti-mandate protesters moved on to City Hall where they could use sound systems. In the interim, a small number of counter-protesters travelled to Central Memorial Park, which had become largely clear of any protesters by 2 pm.
Police were on hand to monitor the protesters as they travelled to City Hall. The group largely stuck to the sidewalks.
Police moved members of the anti-government, anti-mandate protests off Macleod Trail, declaring that breached the court injunction.
City Hall protesters return to Central Memorial, some clashes
Throughout the afternoon, small groups of protesters broke away from the speeches and impromptu karaoke by perennial political candidate Larry Heather, and returned to Central Memorial Park.
One of the drivers of the trucks that had parked far earlier in the morning at Central Memorial was arrested by police after breaking the court injunction for honking horns along Macleod Trail.
Several other protesters at Central Memorial were arrested after anti-mandate groups and counter-protesters clashed following the return of the bulk of protesters from City Hall.
The 1 Street SW underpass turned into a full on honking session after a number of vehicles bearing Ontario and B.C. plates began honking in support of the returning protest group.
Just after 4 p.m., Calgary Police officers formed ranks in Central Memorial Park, pushing the remaining protesters out of the park and onto the sidewalks. By 5 p.m. the anti-government, anti-mandate protest fizzled. Outside of a few members of the mounted unit, very few people remained at the park.
“I do think that we saw a high level of cooperation from the majority of both groups today, and I thought that was very helpful in actually minimizing the disruption of the overall events of the day,” said Chief Neufeld.