UPDATE: 5:26 p.m.
Around 150 people gathered in Kelowna to protest health orders Saturday. Vladislav Sobolev, co-founder of Hugs Over Masks, says he drove in all the way from Vancouver for the rally.
"We're here to primarily end the lockdown as well as all the other COVID measures. And we always say we never force people to think a certain way, we just provide information so that people can make their own choices and decisions," says Sobolev.
These rallies have been going on in the city once a week for several months.
"Enough is enough," said Sobolev.
"We have tens of thousands of businesses going out of business, some of them multi-generational, and that has a tremendous negative impact on the Canadian economy," he continues.
The Kelowna RCMP and mayor of Kelowna earlier this week urged people to not attend the protest.
"Council, the RCMP and the vast majority of Kelowna residents do not share their views and we want everyone to know that," said Mayor Colin Basran in a video posted to the City of Kelowna's Facebook page Wednesday.
While this crowd was protesting, across the street, another group gathered in support of the health measures.
"What about my choice?" a woman on a megaphone asked the health orders protestors. Behind her were a group of people with signs that said "SCIENCE" and "In support of science, vaccines, reality, the truth."
The protest ended with a walk through Bernard Avenue through the downtown core to Highway 97.
UPDATE: 12:55 p.m.
While posters advertised a "mega rally" in Kelowna's Stuart Park Saturday, and the RCMP and Mayor Colin Basran condemned the planned event, Saturday's protest wasn't all that much larger than those held in past weeks.
A few hundred people gathered across Water Street from Kelowna City Hall, under Stuart Park's Bear Statue, as a singer sang protest songs and speakers addressed the crowd.
A small number of counter protesters also gathered outside City Hall.
Despite Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance condemning the event earlier this week, Castanet has not seen much in the way of a police presence so far. The event has been deemed illegal under the COVID-19 public health order that bans events and gatherings, but it's been held every Saturday for many months.
Organizer David Lindsay has received three $2,300 fines for holding the rally in the past.
ORIGINAL: 12:15 p.m.
Protesters are holding a so-called "mega rally" in Kelowna's Stuart Park Saturday, protesting the measures in place to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in British Columbia.
A group of protesters, led by David Lindsay, have been gathering in Stuart Park every Saturday for months.
Earlier this week, after learning of the planned "Okanagan Valentine's Mega Freedom Rally," Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance condemned this weekend's rally, saying it will put the community in danger.
“I want the public to know the police are taking all steps possible in our lawful authority to stop these actions,” she said, explaining officers are “operating under the provisions of Emergency Programs Measures Act” that allow them to issue fines and work with prosecutors to compel people to court.
Mayor Colin Basran also said the Stuart Park protesters “do not represent Kelowna," while the City of Kelowna said they are looking at options to increase the fines for breaking public health orders.
Castanet will be going live from the scene of the protest Saturday afternoon.