Police in Aylmer, say they counted 116 vehicles when a protest convoy rolled through the southwestern Ontario town Thursday afternoon.
Chief Zvonko Horvat said organizers had contacted officers at around 9 a.m. Thursday morning to inform them that a “freedom convoy rally” would be driving through Elgin County between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Organizers had originally expected between 250 to 300 vehicles to participate in the convoy, according to Horvat.
Prior to the convoy’s arrival, Elgin County OPP had posted on their Twitter account that Culloden Road, Talbot Line, Rogers Road, Glencolin Line and Imperial Road/John Street would be impacted.
“So far, it’s been relatively orderly, not too much of a traffic disruption,” said Horvat during an interview recorded at around 2 p.m., when the convoy had already passed through Aylmer.
“I had contacted the Elgin OPP detachment commander and they also have officers on the ground … so far, everything’s going relatively smooth.”
Footage of the convoy posted to social media showed a combination of commercial and passenger vehicles taking part.
One vehicle in the convoy bore a sign that read “freedom no more mandates.”
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The convoy comes as a similar protest continues to occupy downtown Ottawa streets since arriving in the city last Saturday.
The protest initially sprung up in response to a federal rule that all Canadian truckers seeking to cross the border from the United States would need to be vaccinated in order to avoid a 14-day quarantine. That mandate went into effect on Jan. 15 — and the United States’ own vaccine mandate for truckers was imposed a week later.
The protest has gone on to call for an end to all mandates and restrictions related to COVID-19, according to a news conference held by organizers on Thursday.
A GoFundMe from the convoy’s organizers has raised more than $10 million to date, but has recently been paused and placed “under review” by the website.
— with files from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore