The City of Edmonton applied for and was granted an interim injunction on Friday in regards to the noise from downtown protest convoys that have taken place around the Alberta legislature and 109 Street the last two Saturdays.
Drivers in the convoys have been showing their opposition to a number of issues, mostly to do with public health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a special council meeting Friday afternoon, city manager Andre Corbould told councillors that an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice granted the city’s request for a temporary injunction “to address nuisance noise from vehicles that participate in protests against public health restrictions,” under Section 554 of the Municipal Government Act.
He said it would apply to prohibiting protesters from creating incessant sound with horns and megaphones.
A news release from the city said: “the injunction compels people who are organizers, participants or drivers involved in a protest convoy of vehicles or farm equipment to refrain from sounding vehicle horns, airhorns or other noise-making devices from creating unnecessary noise within the city.
“The city sought this injunction after witnessing and hearing from residents and businesses about the effects of noise during protest convoys on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5.”
City officials said they believe another protest will take place Feb. 12.
“We fully support the right to peaceful protest,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “When that protest impacts nearby people and businesses to the degree that the well-being of individuals is compromised or a business cannot operate, we must take action.
“As a legal measure that prohibits certain behaviours or actions, an injunction was a reasonable step that allows the city to also support those Edmontonians who want to carry on with daily life.
“The people of Edmonton have been through so much over the last two years, this was one way we could stand up for their right to peace and quiet.”
Sohi said the temporary injunction will give bylaw and police officers “added tools” to enforce the noise bylaw.
“I also hope it sends a message to protestors that what they’re doing is breaking the law and there’s an injunction in place to prevent them from doing what they’re doing.
“If they’re going to protest, they have to protest peacefully.”
Sohi said the city has heard from a lot of downtown residents, including seniors, who felt disturbed by the loud horns and scared to go outside their homes.
The injunction is in effect immediately until March 4, 2022.
That same day, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford that the city needed 1,800 more officers, in addition to his current contingent of 2,100 police and civilian members, to “quell the insurrection” the local police cannot contain.
An injunction is a court order that a person cease certain behaviour. If they don’t comply, they can be charged with contempt of court.
Paul Champ, a lawyer representing central Ottawa residents in a proposed multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit, argued the loud and prolonged honking is causing irreparable harm.
Keith Wilson, representing three of the respondents in the case, told the judge the ruling on the injunction would carry national importance.
Councillors were meeting Friday to discuss possibly implementing a local COVID-19 vaccine passport, what that would look like and what implications it might have.
Earlier Friday, the Edmonton Police Service issued a media release saying it is aware of another convoy planned for the city on Saturday.
Police said convoys may be coming from various parts of the province, convening at the Alberta legislature grounds. The convoys are anticipated to affect Edmonton traffic anywhere between 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Significant traffic disruption may include Anthony Henday Drive, Yellowhead Trail, Stony Plain Road, Whitemud Drive, Gateway Boulevard, Walterdale Hill, Queen Elizabeth Park Road and the downtown core.
“We recognize that these demonstrations cause significant disruptions to traffic and create many concerns for residents and businesses,” the EPS said.
The EPS said policing during public demonstrations is a complex task that includes upholding multiple laws, while balancing fundamental rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The EPS said it will continue to work with municipal and provincial partners to ensure proper resources are in place to manage traffic and crowds, while preventing situations from escalating.
Police urged people not to call 911 unless it is an emergency.
The EPS said it may use verbal warnings, tickets and arrests to mitigate any disorderly conduct.
“Our focus will be to prevent these convoys from developing into situations that actively threaten the safety and security of our community. We are closely monitoring this demonstration and are ready to adapt our response as required.”
When asked how the injunction would impact EPS’ response, a spokesperson told Global News:
“The EPS will continue to work with its municipal and provincial partners to ensure proper resources are in place to manage traffic and crowds and prevent situations from escalating,” Cheryl Voordenhout wrote.
“The injunction will be incorporated into these enforcement strategies.”
— With files from Mike Blanchfield and Laura Osman, The Canadian Press