Anti-mask protesters cause delay on BC Ferries vessel

BC Ferries says a “police incident” aboard one of its vessels caused an unexpected delay Saturday.

The Queen of Oak Bay was operating 41 minutes behind schedule on the route between Nanaimo’s Departure Bay and West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay terminals Saturday morning, BC Ferries said in a statement.

The company’s statement did not elaborate on the nature of the incident that caused the delay, but West Vancouver police confirmed to CTV News Vancouver Island that the ferry service asked them to attend the Horseshoe Bay terminal because of a group of passengers BC Ferries described as “anti-maskers.”

Cpl. Neil Schafer told CTV News the company was concerned about 50 passengers who had been “verbally aggressive” with other passengers who were wearing masks.

Police officers responded to the ferry terminal to “keep the peace,” Schafer said, adding that there were no notable conflicts between passengers or officers. No arrests were made.

“It turned into, essentially, a non-incident for us,” Schafer said.

He said the anti-mask passengers may have been bound for the so-called “Freedom Mega Rally,” a gathering of mask opponents and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists scheduled to take place outside the Vancouver Art Gallery this weekend. 

CTV News Vancouver Island has reached out to BC Ferries and West Vancouver police for more information about the incident. This story will be updated if and when a response is received.

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“We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience you may experience as a result of this sailing delay,” BC Ferries said in its statement on the matter.

In August, BC Ferries began requiring all passengers to wear face coverings when outside their vehicles.

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