New Brunswick

Fredericton police ready for protesters who promise 'gridlock' for capital

Fredericton police say extra police from around New Brunswick will be in the city Friday when a protest against COVID-19 restrictions is expected to get underway outside the legislature, and they’ll be turning away trucks before they can get downtown.

Officers will stop anyone trying to block entry to the core, chief says, before city crews put up barricades

A barricade was put up across Queen Street on Thursday to keep protest vehicles out of the downtown core. (Shane Fowler CBC)

Fredericton police say extra police from around New Brunswick will be in the city Friday when a protest against COVID-19 restrictions is expected to get underway outside the legislature, and they'll be turning away trucks before they can get downtown.

"We are not going to tolerate trucks in the downtown core in any way, shape or form," Chief Roger Brown said Thursday.

Hours later, city workers used barriers to close Queen Street between the Cenotaph and St. John Street, while police advised people to "avoid the protest area unless absolutely necessary."

"Protesters are going to be made very well aware that we will have a perimeter set up down around the legislature building where they can protest peacefully," Brown told reporters. 'No issue whatsoever."

But they won't be permitted to stop traffic in the downtown area or cause gridlock in the city, said Brown. 

Chief Roger Brown of the Fredericton police says no one will be allowed to use a vehicle to block entry to the downtown. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Routes going in and out of the capital will be controlled by police, he said, and truckers who aren't going into the downtown for business will be turned away. 

Mayor Kate Rogers said the city has been preparing for the protest.

"Like all of you, I'm very unsettled and I'm concerned at the prospect of this taking place here in our city," Rogers said.

 "I want to assure you that the Fredericton police force, city staff and our colleagues at the province have been … working tirelessly to make sure that the city is not unduly disrupted and that our residents are safe and that our businesses continue to stay open." 

The planned protest was inspired by a protest in Ottawa by a convoy of truck drivers and others demonstrating against vaccine mandates. Hundreds are expected at the event in Fredericton, which organizers promised in a promotional blurb would "gridlock" the city. 

Fredericton police chief scolds protesters who plan to gridlock downtown core

10 months ago
Duration 2:04
Fredericton police Chief Roger Brown says officers from around the province are working with the city to ensure public safety and traffic are not disrupted during a protest opposing COVID-19 restrictions.


Brown wouldn't say how many additional police would be joining forces with Fredericton, or how much he expects this to cost the municipality. 

"I will tell you that when you've got to bring in a number of police officers that I am bringing in and house and feed and all the logistics that go with that, it's going to be expensive," he said. 

"Unfortunately, it will cost us what it will cost us."

$10,000 fine possible for blocking a street

On Wednesday, Premier Blaine Higgs gave the authority to police to hand out heavy fines, as high as $10,000, to anyone blocking streets. 

The police will also be allowed to seize vehicles. 

"Some people think that to seize a vehicle, you have to seize it on the spot. … You can do a forfeiture order based on illegal activity, and it can be seized several months later," Brown said. 

Those measures won't just be applied to large trucks, he said. 

"If we have cars or pickup trucks that decide to use their vehicles to block roads, they're going to be moved. … If not, we'll move them and there will be fines levied with respect to that."

No way to supply protesters with food

Organizers of the protest are asking that drivers create gridlock in the city's downtown beginning Friday at 1 p.m. On a Facebook event page, they say the protest will last several days. 

Brown said people will not be allowed to bring in supplies, food or fuel to help with any protesters who stay in the area. 

"That will be stopped in no uncertain terms," he said.

"And you know, we have a lot of police officers coming in here from across this province that will give us the ability to be able to deal with that."

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