Concerns about border protest impacting Red Deer pork plant

Red Deer's pork processing plant could be impacted by the trucker protest at the Coutts border crossing. Demonstrators started the blockade at the international border on Saturday in solidarity with similar events in Ottawa and countrywide to protest vaccine mandates and broader public health measures.

Since then, an agreement with the protesters opened up a single lane in both directions on Highway 4 and truckers hauling cargo were finally able to cross the border into the U.S. Olymel spokesperson Richard Vigneault said there are concerns that the protest could have an impact on exporting products, importing materials for production, and the availability of transport.

He said hopefully traffic across the border will return to normal as soon as possible.

Staff at the Olymel in Red Deer have not been impacted.

With more than 1,700 workers, the Red Deer plant has the most workers of any of the company's plants.

An RCMP spokesman says there's no way to predict when the protest at Alberta's main border crossing will end but he understands the public's growing frustration as it drags on.

The impasse stranded travellers and cross-border truckers for days, compromised millions of dollars in trade and impeded access to basic goods and medical services for area residents.

Coutts Mayor Jim Willett has called for the protest to end and says it has cut off village residents from medical services.

RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters said he understands why people are upset since it has been nearly a week.

"We hear their frustrations. I understand that," Peters said Thursday.

"I've spoken several times about how this has affected the town of Coutts and the town of Sweetgrass (Montana). We continue working toward bringing this to an end."

Peters said he doesn't know what is going to happen next in the dispute because every single incident is different, nor can he say if police intend to take action to deal with what he calls an "unlawful protest."

"I don't have a line in the sand. This is a constant state of evolving evaluation right? This changes minute by minute, hour by hour," he said.

"The one thing that does stay consistent throughout is the constant dialogue that we're having."

Par : Susan Zielinski (05/02/2022)

Source : The Red Deer Advocate

Photo : Archives | The Canadian Press (tirée de l'article du Red Deer Advocate)