Ottawa police, bylaw increasing downtown presence on anniversary of ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest

Ottawa police and Bylaw Services are telling residents and visitors they will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to parking, noise and fireworks violations downtown this weekend, on the one-year anniversary of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstration.

The city of Ottawa issued a statement late Thursday afternoon, promising “increased enforcement” in the downtown core on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including special parking restrictions.

“All vehicles found violating these regulations will be ticketed and towed,” the city said in a statement.

On Jan. 28, 2022, thousands of vehicles and people rolled into downtown Ottawa as part of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures. The protest occupied several streets in the Parliamentary Precinct for more than three weeks, and forced the closure of several businesses including the Rideau Centre.

The city says special parking restrictions will be in effect between Friday and Sunday, and drivers are being advised to follow signage and to park their vehicles accordingly. The city did not say where the special parking restrictions will be in effect.

Bylaw Services will also have additional officers in the core to enforce all parking regulations and to issue tickets to anyone violating other city of Ottawa Bylaws, including:

  • Unnecessary motor-vehicle or other noise, including speakers

  • Construction or installation of structures on City property

  • Public urination and defecation

  • Open air fires

  • Littering

  • Lighting and discharging fireworks

Ottawa police have said that residents and businesses will see an increased police presence from time-to-time in the downtown core between now and mid-February.

Chief Eric Stubbs says police will not tolerate vehicle-based protests in the downtown core.

“People want lawful, peaceful and safe protests on Parliament Hill. We deal with that almost every day. It’s the freedom of every Canadian to protest and we support people with that, but if it’s not lawful, peaceful and safe, that’s when we have to be more assertive,” Stubbs said on Monday.

“We’ve been clear, I’ve been clear that our goal is to not have a vehicle-based protest and if someone attempts that, we will take action to dismantle it very quickly.”

Stubbs said intelligence officers are monitoring “all over the place” and there could be no protest at all or a couple of hundred people showing up this weekend.

Police said last week that it had not seen “specific information” on plans for large-scale demonstrations or protest in Ottawa, but said the potential for some levels of protests exist.

“We will have resources, logistics, traffic, towing and staffing plans in place to address any type of scenario and will not allow the conditions to occur that resulted in the February 2022 convoy,” police said on Twitter.

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