Anti-mask protesters cause delay on BC Ferries vessel
BC Ferries vessel The Queen of Oak Bay is pictured in spring 2019. (Pete Cline / CTV News Vancouver)
VANCOUVER -- 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 in an email to CTV News Vancouver Island, BC Ferries confirmed there were 12 anti-mask protesters on the 8:30 a.m. sailing from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay.
"They were causing a disturbance and being verbally abusive to other passengers," the company said. "BC Ferries has a mandatory mask policy. We don’t tolerate this type of behaviour. We called West Vancouver police and they met the ship at Horseshoe Bay when it arrived."
West Vancouver police confirmed the call to CTV News and said officers at the scene revised the number of anti-mask protesters involved.
Cpl. Neil Schafer said roughly 50 passengers were part of the anti-mask group, which both he and BC Ferries speculated may have been headed to 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.
Police officers responded to the ferry terminal to "keep the peace," Schafer said, adding that there were no notable conflicts between passengers or with officers. No arrests were made.
"It turned into, essentially, a non-incident for us," Schafer said.
BC Ferries said the anti-mask protesters are "banned from travel for at least today."
"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.