Hundreds express differing views on COVID-19 mandates in Uptown Waterloo
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Uptown Waterloo on Saturday amid the recent "Freedom Convoy" in Ottawa.
Around noon, a crowd filled Waterloo Town Square, with one side calling for an end to COVID-19 mandates and the other hoping they stay in place.
"We want to be here to meet them and to be here first to show people that we are here to support them in our community. That we care about them," mandate supporter Dorothy McCabe told CTV News.
Local advocates of COVID-19 mandates were on-hand to show support for the policies set by provincial and federal governments.
"I don't like the last few protests. What they've been doing, and I wanted the businesses and the people of Waterloo to be aware," said mandate supporter Ashley Fox.
The crowd was met by a demonstration of people protesting restrictions in place by provincial and federal levels of government.
"This is going into the third year. Not the third day, or third month. It's time to take mandates off. Let people do what they want to do," Brian Johnston said to CTV News, while protesting at Waterloo Town Square.
Waterloo regional police closed King Street South between Erb Street and William Street ahead of the protest. The roadway reopened just before 5 p.m.
The protest remained peaceful, with both sides respecting everyone's right to free speech.
"I've got not problem with any of these people. They can do what they want," said Daniel John Hamilton, who wants an end to COVID-19 mandates. "It's about freedom, because I would sooner die than live the rest of my life locked up."
"People will see what they want to see in these protests depending on their political partisanship. So I think it's up to us to make individual connections," said mandate supporter Eden Hennessey.
Regional officials were aware of the protests and asked people to be respectful.
"Just to say how distressing it is to see this level of divisiveness in our community, particularly at a time where we should be coming together," regional chair Karen Redman said on Friday.
Despite their views, both groups share the same goal of getting back to living without mandates. They just disagree on how that goal should be achieved.