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Coronavirus: Kelowna rally to ‘open our city’ draws small crowd

Small anti-lockdown protest at Kelowna’s City Hall

A Michigan movement it wasn’t.

Less than two dozen people showed up in Kelowna on Friday morning to protest ongoing lockdown measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

One day earlier, in Lansing, Mich., hundreds protested outside and inside the state’s Capitol building, including some carrying firearms, to denounce stay-at-home orders.

At Stuart Park and later outside city hall in Kelowna, it was a much more subdued scene at the Open Our City rally, with only a few people carrying signs, unlike their armed and angry counterparts three time zones away in Michigan.

READ MORE: ‘Very good people’: Trump backs armed effort to storm Michigan capitol over coronavirus rules

Though not many showed up, event organizer Debora Powell said she was impressed by the turnout, stating, “it’s a fantastic start.”

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The rally was held under sunny skies, with Powell stating “the compassion for one another and the conviction that they’re showing up with, as far as the message — it’s very heartfelt.”

One rally participant, Mike Rowland, said he was in attendance “to support reopening our economy because the numbers don’t support continued lockdown.”

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As of April 30, B.C. had recorded 2,112 cases.

Rowland, who said he was a senior, stated “I understand initially when nobody knew anything about this that everybody went conservative, maybe panicked even. It made sense at that time.”

Protest planned in Kelowna over pandemic lockdown
Protest planned in Kelowna over pandemic lockdown

Rowland said he’s all for protecting those who are compromised and who are seniors, but that “he’s not worried about it.”

He added the rally “was about freedom, freedom of choice. If we’re all mandated to stay in our homes and not go out, what’s the point in having a life if you’re locked into your house?”

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A protester said there were likely more car-accident deaths in B.C., than COVID-19 deaths.

This is untrue.

According to the latest provincial data, 111 residents in B.C. have died because of COVID-19 between March 9 and April 30. That equates to around 13.8 deaths per week during that eight-week span.

According to Road Safety B.C., 282 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2018, or an average of 5.4 per week.

There were also 281 motor-vehicle deaths in 2017, 288 in 2016 and 295 in 2015.

READ MORE: Hundreds protest COVID-19 social restrictions at Alberta legislature grounds

Another protester, Maggie Reigh, said she was in attendance after becoming “quite alarmed when the parks and the boat launches and the places where people go to heal and connect in a healthy way were being shut down.”

Reigh said she’s concerned for those living in residences where they can’t access green spaces, “the things that keep our families healthy.”

There were no counter-protesters, but one rally detractor said she actually came downtown to see what the rally was about.

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“I came down to see what they were up to, because I saw it on the news last night,” said Heather Friesen, adding that she feels the coronavirus is dangerous.  “And I wanted to see what kind of turnout they would actually get.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus outbreak: Crowd gathers at Wisconsin state Capitol to protest COVID-19 restrictions