Calgary police calls mask protest at Chinook Centre a ‘non-event’

CALGARY — Police and mall security staff were prepared for a possible anti-mask protest at Calgary’s largest shopping centre Saturday but, approximately two hours after it started, officials said it was a non-event.

The Freedom Unity Alliance, a group that claims to bring socially conscious people together, had planned an anti-mask protest at Calgary’s Chinook Centre Saturday afternoon.

However, when CTV News spoke with the Calgary Police Service at 3 p.m., they said only a handful of protesters showed up and there was no further incident at the mall.

The organization, a Facebook group that has more than 600 members, first proposed the idea of the protest on Oct. 12.

“I really would like for all of us to meet at a mall,” the post on the group’s page reads. “Just walk around or shop and out number the mask wearers.

“To some it may raise questions or inspire others to take theirs off too?! We are there to raise awareness and to show that they are not alone.”

According to bylaws passed by the City of Calgary earlier this year, everyone who visits a business must wear a face covering to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Any Calgarian who fails to do so is subject to a $50 fine.

Any business that fails to post proper signage could also be fined $150.

Earlier Saturday, police said they were aware of the protest that was organized on social media and worked with mall security to monitor the development of the protest. Officials said they would have stepped in if the situation became tense, but that never happened.

Last month, city council voted 11-3 to extend the temporary bylaw regarding mandatory mask wearing inside public buildings and businesses in the city of Calgary.

On Aug. 18, a survey showed 89 per cent of respondents said they always wore a face covering in public and confined spaces, more than 50 per cent higher than the amount of people who were asked the same question prior to the mask bylaw.

Calgary’s bylaw will be up for review again in December.

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