By Ian Haupt
A convoy of truckers and supporters blocked the Pacific Highway border crossing for three days after weeks of continued protests by Canadians over government vaccination mandates and border restrictions. Nationwide protests have shuttered the nation’s capital, closed several ports of entry along the Canada-US border and just this week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency orders.
This was the first border protest on the West Coast linked to what are known as the “Freedom Convoy” protests. The blockade has blocked British Columbia’s main entry point for commercial truck traffic, forcing transport companies to use the Sumas crossing or postpone deliveries for the day.
On the evening of February 14, the Surrey Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), assisted by an RCMP tactical team and surrounding detachments, cleared protesters who had formed a blockade just north of the Port of Entry on Feb. 12 and continued to demonstrate, according to an RCMP news release. Level crossings resumed as normal on February 15.
Canada Border Services Agency senior spokesman Patrick Mahaffy told The Northern Light in an email Feb. 14 that the Pacific Highway border crossing remains open, but travelers are encouraged to use other entry points as the road beyond the crossing was blocked by protesters.
“What I can tell you is that the CBSA recognizes that border disruptions affect both travelers and industry and are working with law enforcement partners to restore the fastest possible normal border operations at the relevant entry points,” he wrote on Monday.
Over the three days, a total of 16 people were arrested, according to the RCMP, including four on Saturday and 12 on Monday evening when the RCMP cleared the blockade.
Several protests at border crossings across the country were cleared and reopened to traffic on February 14 following Trudeau’s call for the Emergencies Act to strengthen and support Canadian law enforcement agencies. law. A blockade on the busy Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., was also lifted on Monday.
According to Canadian reports, the majority of protesters at the Pacific Highway border crossing arrived and stayed until Saturday, while only a few remained in the rain on Monday. Some people also rallied on the American side over the three days to show their support for the Canadian protesters.
On January 29, three weeks earlier, nearly 200 people demonstrated under the Peace Arch in support of the “Freedom Convoy” which was then heading for Ottawa, the national capital. Elsewhere, Canadian truckers had blocked entry points into the east of the country and effectively prevented northbound travelers from crossing.
Vice President of Blaine-based Edge Logistics and Transport Inc. Dennis Wilson was grateful then that British Columbia ports of entry remained open to traffic and that Edge could deliver customers in Vancouver as usually. This week, however, he had to deal with inconveniences.
Edge is a shipping company that offers daily pickups and deliveries from the United States and Canada. Based in Blaine, it transports freight primarily between Seattle and Vancouver, BC
Wilson said Edge had its freight received Feb. 11, pre-cleared for the Pacific Highway crossing, and ready for delivery to customers in Vancouver on Feb. 14.
But when Canadian protesters blocked the crossing on Monday morning, Wilson said Edge was considering having his goods rerouted and cleared for the Sumas crossing, until they learned the wait time current was more than two hours. On top of that, the process of approving the entry of all cargo into Canada at a different port — which Wilson says only happens in rare circumstances — can take hours. So Edge decided to send the drivers home and not race in BC for the day.
“I just said screw it,” Wilson said. “We are not racing today.”
Mahaffy said the CBSA is continuously monitoring changing demand at other ports of entry and allocating resources, adjusting staffing levels and hours of service at these crossings to minimize delays. processing and potential delays. “The CBSA would like to thank all travelers for their cooperation and patience,” he wrote.
With traffic cleared through Tuesday, Wilson said Edge doubled deliveries and pickups in British Columbia to make up for the lost day. “It went surprisingly well,” he said.