The village of Coutts readjusts at the end of the blockade: “We had literally been locked up”
What started as a rolling convoy of truckers and other vehicles protesting COVID-19 mandates on January 29 has turned into a major blockade at Alberta’s largest border crossing.
On Tuesday, after 18 days, protesters packed up and left Coutts, following the discovery of weapons and ammunition.
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For longtime resident Lori Minor, it was an emotional time. She didn’t want to risk leaving the community to go shopping.
“We had literally been locked in,” she said. “I spent 15 years in the army and I never had this feeling of not being in control of anything.”
Along with the protests in Ottawa, the news coming out of Coutts received international coverage. The village is home to only a few hundred people.
Weapons and ammunition seized during a border blockade in Coutts, Alberta
“It was a little overwhelming,” Minor said. “I have family all over the country now and all over the world. I keep getting calls like, ‘Are you okay? Are you OK? What is happening?’ and I say, ‘Well, you know everything I do.’”
On Wednesday, the area was much calmer than it had been. There was almost no indication that a protest ever took place, as border operations continued.
Border operations resume after Coutts blockade dismantled in southern Alberta
Mayor Jim Willett said he was unaware of any cleanup to be done. Only a bale of hay and some tire tracks were left.
“(Protesters) left it as they found it,” he said. ” I have no complaints.
“It was garbage day so the bins were at the curb and public works cleared the snow and it’s just another day in heaven.”
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Some business owners in nearby Milk River said the impact of the protest was mostly positive.
For Laura Michaelis, owner of the Sandstone Motel, the additional population has benefited her restaurant, gas station and accommodation.
“It was really a blessing, given that February is normally a very, very slow season,” she explained. “We’ve met some truly amazing people with the biggest hearts.”
Willett added that the event definitely put their small community on the map.
“Obviously a lot more people know where Coutts, Alberta is and the fact that we have people living here.”
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