British Columbia

U.S. border crossing in Surrey, B.C., reopens following protest against public health measures

Authorities say traffic has resumed through one of B.C.'s border crossings to the U.S., but police will stay in area and continue to investigate crowds that 'swarmed' members of the media during protests against public health measures Saturday.

Vaccine mandate protesters have now disrupted traffic in the Lower Mainland for the 4th straight weekend

Anti-mandate protesters at the intersection of 8th Avenue and Highway 15 are pictured on Saturday. Convoys of vehicles made their way to the border crossing Saturday from Vancouver and Chilliwack, B.C. (Georgie Smyth/CBC)

One of B.C.'s busy border crossings to the U.S. reopened to traffic Saturday night, according to authorities, after protestors against public health measures blocked access since early afternoon.

Surrey RCMP said most demonstrators had left the area near Pacific Highway crossing by 8:40 p.m. PT, but that a smaller group remained on the sidewalk nearby — leading police to "maintain a large presence throughout the evening" including RCMP road checks.

"It's been a very busy day for our teams on the ground, and those supporting operations from behind the scenes," said Sgt. Elenore Sturko with Surrey RCMP in a statement Saturday night.

"Our work here is not done though, and the public can expect a continued police presence in the days and nights ahead."

Canada Border Services Agency issued a statement around the same time announcing that "normal operations have now resumed at the Pacific Highway port of entry."

Demonstrations throughout the day against public health measures had forced RCMP to block access to the U.S. border crossing in Surrey, B.C., for the second weekend in a row.

Members of media 'swarmed'

Meanwhile, police are continuing to investigate what the RCMP called "aggressive" crowds that "swarmed" members of the media, including from CBC News, during protests against public health measures Saturday.

"We had some incidents today where members of the press had been surrounded and swarmed by protesters," Sturko told CBC News in an interview.

"We won't condone any unlawful behaviour, including threats, intimidation or harassment."

Convoys of vehicles made their way to the border crossing Saturday from Vancouver and Chilliwack, B.C., as vaccine mandate protesters have now disrupted traffic in the Lower Mainland for the fourth straight weekend.

More than a dozen people were arrested at the Pacific Highway border crossing last week, with some protesters breaching blockades amid reports of harassment and threatening behaviour.

Despite the border being opened again last week after Mounties cleared out protesters, demonstrators forced another highway closure on Saturday at the intersection of 8th Avenue and 176 Street.

Vaccine mandate protesters blocked off the intersection of 8th Avenue and 176 Street, leading to the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C., for the second weekend in a row on Saturday. (Janella Hamilton/CBC)

Police across Canada, including in Victoria, are continuing to deal with protests against vaccine mandates, with the prime minister authorizing use of emergency powers under the Emergencies Act to deal with them.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said B.C. supports the use of the act to deal with protesters.

Counter-protesters turn out

In Vancouver, counter-protesters came out once again to oppose the vaccine mandate protests.

A cohort of counter-protesters had forced trucks to change routes in Vancouver two weeks ago. Counter-protesters on Saturday turned out at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in the city's Hastings Park to oppose one of the convoys headed for the Surrey border.

A group of counter-protesters held signs mocking vaccine mandate protesters in Vancouver on Saturday. (Dan Burritt/CBC)

Loud honking was heard at the intersection of Hastings Street and Renfrew Street as the two groups met around 10 a.m. PT on Saturday, but no violence was reported and protesters mostly stayed apart.

Police across the province have said they will continue to provide updates on the protests that continue to disrupt road access.

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