Anti-mask protest slated for Polo Park

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Manitoba’s largest mall is increasing security in anticipation of a maskless protest Saturday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/02/2022 (290 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba’s largest mall is increasing security in anticipation of a maskless protest Saturday.

CF Polo Park learned of the planned event last week, according to Peter Havens, the mall’s general manager.

“We’ve been in contact with the City of Winnipeg, and we have additional security of our own to prepare for the event,” Havens said, adding he’s keeping the extra security measures private.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Polo Park mall is the target of a maskless protest planned for Saturday.

Havens didn’t know how many intend to participate Saturday. An online post dubs the protest “Mega Maskless Manitoba.”

“Let’s create a mega maskless shockwave back to a better normal all while honouring our truckers, heritage, and rights,” the post read.

It encouraged protesters to wear trucker or Canadian clothing.

Keeping clients and customers safe is top priority, Havens said.

“We believe that people have the right to protest, but we also want to balance that out with trying to create a safe and comfortable shopping environment,” he said.

“We don’t condone nor give permission for these types of events in our properties, and we ask that everybody would wear a mask and abide by the public health orders.”

The Winnipeg Police Service has been notified.

“(We’re) aware of this scheduled event and will monitor,” Const. Dani McKinnon wrote in an email.

Havens noted CF Polo Park is filled with front-line workers.

“We’ve been… doing our best to cope with the pandemic for two years,” he said. “(This also) may not be the best venue, because at the end of the day, we don’t have any say in these public health orders.”

The Free Press spoke to a number of workers at CF Polo Park Tuesday; none were aware of the protest.

One shop manager, who wasn’t authorized to speak to media, said she wasn’t comfortable with maskless people entering the store. She hoped for increased security.

Another, Cliff Brown, said it’s hard to say what shops will do in response until the event transpires — if it does.

“(If) anything like that happens, I’ll talk with my regional manager to discuss what the options are (and) what the company will do,” Brown, who manages CF Polo Park’s Michael Hill outlet, said.

Cadillac Fairview’s mall in Ottawa, Rideau Centre, has been closed since Jan. 29 due to ongoing protests in the nation’s capital. Dozens of unmasked shoppers filled the mall during the protest’s early days, according to media reports.

“Cadillac Fairview has been advised that authorities cannot provide any assurances that it is safe to reopen,” the company said in a news release Sunday.

The closure is financially impacting the 175 businesses within the mall, Cadillac Fairview wrote.

Closer to home, demonstrators have parked themselves at the Manitoba Legislative Building; they’ve been protesting COVID-19 public health measures since Friday. One protester said Sunday the group is in it for the long haul — port-a-potties and makeshift fire pits have been set up.

gabrielle.piche@winnipegfreepress.com

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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