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Ottawa Tightens Law Enforcement Ahead of ‘Freedom Convoy’ Anniversary Event

As the one-year anniversary of the truckers’ “Freedom Convoy” protest approaches, the City of Ottawa and law enforcement agencies are preparing for an event that will attract an anticipated 500 participants.

The municipal government said in a statement that the Ottawa Police Service will be enforcing the city by-laws regarding parking, noise, litter, and fireworks. Special parking restrictions will also be in effect in the downtown area between Jan. 27 and Jan. 29. Residents and visitors are advised to follow posted signage when parking their vehicles.

In addition to parking violations, tickets will be issued to any individual or group violating any other by-laws, including “unnecessary motor-vehicle or other noise—which includes noise from speakers, construction or installation of structures on city property, public urination and defecation, open air fires, littering, and lighting and discharging fireworks.

The Ottawa By-law and Regulatory Services (BLRS) will have additional officers in the downtown area to enforce the parking regulations, and “all vehicles found violating these regulations will be ticketed and towed,” the statement said.

“Additional officers are on patrol this weekend in the downtown core for anticipated events. Enforcement action will be taken in regard to flagrant violation of municipal regulations,” the BLRS said in a Twitter statement.

The Parliamentary Protective Service (PPS) said it expects 500 people to gather this weekend to mark one-year anniversary of the “Freedom Convoy” protest last winter that saw a massive number of demonstrators gathering at the national capital for more than three weeks, urging the Liberal government to end its COVID-19 vaccine mandate restrictions.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations said prior to last year’s protest that the COVID-19 vaccine mandates would have up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who make regular cross-border trips sidelined, adding further bottlenecks and potential price hikes to the flow of goods ranging from food to medical devices.

The PPS, which polices the precinct, said it will curtail some access to Parliament Hill.

The public can still use the central and east gates to access the Hill lawn, but won’t have access through the gates closest to the West Block—where the Liberals are holding their caucus meeting this weekend. Meanwhile, public tours have also been cancelled, the PPS said. It also said that Ottawa police will enforce the closure of Wellington Street, in front of Parliament Hill, to traffic.

OC Transpo, the City of Ottawa’s public transit agency, said there haven’t been any planned traffic closures as a result of this weekend’s events, but that the police “may impose temporary closures to manage large volumes of traffic if necessary to ensure the lawful flow of traffic or public safety.”

“Drivers should anticipate delays in the downtown core,” it said in a statement on Jan. 26.

Ottawa city council voted this week to reopen Wellington Street to cars as soon as March, after a yearlong closure.

During last year’s protest, convoys of large trucks parked in the streets of the downtown area for weeks, and were removed after the Liberal government unprecedentedly invoked the Emergencies Act, giving the police special powers to oust the demonstrators and their vehicles.

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