BARRIE, ONT. -- Despite having their typical gathering place blocked off, hundreds still turned out in downtown Barrie Saturday to protest the provincial government's COVID-19 restrictions.

One man was led away by four police officers from the protest, which started near the city's waterfront.

"There was one arrest in a crowd of mostly peaceful people," said Inspector Rich Johnston of the Barrie Police Service. "There was an individual causing a disturbance to the point there were some concerns for everyone around."

The protestors first gathered at the fenced-off Meridian place beginning at noon Saturday. The city closed the site earlier in the week to prevent public gatherings.

"Let them fence off whatever part of the city they want they are never going to silence me," said Tyler Nicholson, who has been organizing the weekend protests in Barrie for several weeks.

Hundreds of people, most without a mask, still gathered and made their way down Lakeshore to Centennial Beach. Many people here for different reasons.

There were bout 250 people taking part in the rally Saturday.

Organizer Nicholson said he largely showed up for children's rights.

"Nobody is really covering that, noone is really talking about the kids," said Nicholson. "It's all about small businesses. I don't hear nothing about the kids; that's ultimately why I spoke up because I am a father first".

Police say they were there to keep the peace to ensure a safe environment for everyone. While no tickets were issued for the illegal gathering, Barrie police say tickets could be issued next week.

"Even with the much smaller crowds, these gatherings are illegal wherever they occur," said Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman.

The organizer said he does not plan to stop, saying that the group will be gathering at the Sadlon Centre next weekend.