Second highway blockade appears near Coutts as border protest continues

Feb 3 2022, 7:27 pm

As a highway blockade at the Coutts border crossing in southern Alberta continues for the sixth day in a row, a new blockade has been created about 15 kilometres north.

Alberta RCMP confirmed on Twitter this morning that those protesting COVID-19 health measures for unvaccinated truckers have set up an additional blockade near the town of Milk River, just north of the Coutts crossing.

Mounties informed motorists that Highway 4 at Highway 501 in the Milk River area is obstructed due to a blockade in southbound lanes of Highway 4, and advised avoiding the area.

Alberta RCMP said that US-bound vehicles, US citizens, and residents of Coutts who were stopped at the blockade on Highway 4 at Highway 501 are currently being allowed through the blockade.

Police escorts continue in the northbound lanes of Highway 4 from the Coutts border crossing, where traffic conditions remain unsafe.

“It is a slow process at this time,” said Alberta RCMP.

This follows the reopening of two lanes of traffic near the Coutts border on Wednesday afternoon.

“In response to concerned citizens in the area of Coutts,” wrote Alberta RCMP on Twitter, “the participants in the blockade made the decision to open a lane going northbound and southbound on Highway 4 near the Coutts border.”

RCMP issued a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the assembly at Coutts, calling it an “unlawful blockade” and “not a peaceful assembly.”

“As of this morning, further action is being taken by the Alberta RCMP as this blockade continues to impede the ability for emergency agencies to provide full services to area residents. It has also negatively impacted the flow of goods and services and impedes the public’s freedom of movement,” Alberta RCMP said.

“Highway is considered essential infrastructure,” Mounties continued. “It is unlawful to willfully obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with the construction, maintenance, use, or operation of any essential infrastructure in a manner that renders the essential infrastructure dangerous, useless, inoperative, or ineffective as per the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act of Alberta. Anyone who actively blocks a highway—or aids, counsels, or directs a highway to be blocked—may be subject to arrest and charge under this act.”

Alberta RCMP advised that commercial vehicles should contact Canada Border Services Agency for further information regarding border crossings.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the racist imagery and desecration of memorials at the protest against the vaccine mandate in Ottawa this past weekend.

Alberta Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney chimed in as well, writing in a tweet that “Everyone has the right to protest peacefully, but our supply chain and the livelihoods of those trying to cross the border should not suffer because of that.”

With files from Laine Mitchell

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