Fredericton businesses and schools prepare for downtown rally
Fredericton businesses and schools near downtown are bracing for possible disruptions as a planned “waterlogged” rally looms Friday afternoon.
Fredericton Police have announced, effective immediately, that Queen Street, between the Cenotaph and St. John Street, is closed to vehicular traffic.
An online flyer recently circulated on social media, titled “New Brunswick Freedom Convoy 2022.”
He invites participants to assemble at the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly at 1 p.m. Friday and “Assemble and lock down Fredericton while our fellow New Brunswick Freedom Fighters hold the line in Ottawa.
Some schools in Francophone-Sud and Anglophone-Ouest have made the decision to cancel classes on Friday due to safety concerns and the possible impact on school bus routes.
In an update emailed to families, both districts say students are not scheduled to participate in online classes on Friday.
The following schools will be closed:
- School of Builders
- St. Anne’s School
- Connaught Street Primary School
- Priestman Street Primary School
- Montgomery Street Elementary School
- George Street Middle School
The two school boards will notify parents on Sunday of the shift to online learning if the gathering continues and disrupts Monday’s school day.
The Anglophone East school board in Moncton also sent an email, calling on families not to participate in the rally or demonstrate outside schools.
“Protests announced in other regions are causing feelings of anxiety among many students and staff,” the notice read.
“This climate harms the school environment and learning already impacted by COVID-19.”
The rally takes place over Valentine’s Day weekend, as many downtown businesses have suffered financial losses due to winter storms over the past two weekends.
The general manager of the Crowne Plaza hotel on Queen Street, Trevor Morgan, says he is aware of how the business could be affected by a protest downtown.
“I can tell you with certainty that we are going to have people involved in the protests staying at the hotel,” Morgan said.
“They are welcome to stay with us as long as they understand that they must follow the protocols in place based on the mandatory prescription,” Morgan said, noting that this includes checking for proof of vaccination and adhering. appropriate masking requirements.
He says that so far hotel guests have not expressed widespread concern about security, but have had questions about access to the hotel.
Morgan says the parking lot will be adjusted to accommodate customers potentially affected by the planned “lockdown.”
For Mike Babineau, the worst scenario in the coming days would be an escalation of action similar to what we see in Ottawa.
“[If] they camp and make noise and don’t respect the neighbors, don’t respect the local businesses which are the ones they say they’re trying to help… I think they’re going to lose a lot of public support,” Babineau said. , restaurant owner and Chairman of the Downtown Fredericton Board of Directors.
Babineau said businesses have received guidance from city officials and police on what to expect.
“They have additional officers on duty this weekend … 60 to 70 Public Safety who will be away this weekend plus the RCMP,” Babineau said.
Alex Scholten of Victory Meat Market on King Street said staff and customers were worried.
“Being prepared, I think, is going to be very beneficial…from what we understand, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to the scope or size of this,” Scholten said, adding that the outlet plans to d have more. staff present to handle anything that might happen.
“You prepare for the worst and you hope for the best.”
The city said 20 barricades would be erected on stretches of road surrounding the Legislature.
Workers were seen placing concrete barricades along Queen Street on Thursday afternoon in preparation.
Fredericton Police Chief Roger Brown also said additional officers will be on duty.
On Wednesday, the province gave police the power to issue stiff fines, up to $10,000, to anyone blocking streets.
The police will also be authorized to seize vehicles.