Ottawa police say they are ready to end attempts to occupy Canada Day


Ottawa city officials say they are ready for a “one-of-a-kind” Canada Day holiday, with plans to prevent anti-government protests from turning into another occupation.

Nationally broadcast traditional shows return for the first time since 2019, this time from the plaza in front of the Canadian War Museum due to ongoing construction on Parliament Hill.

Ottawa police say they expect more protests and larger crowds than usual during Canada Day celebrations, as groups linked to the Freedom Convoy continue to plan demonstrations. Some members of these groups have indicated that they would like to demonstrate in July and August.

“It’s expected to be a unique Canada Day, with larger crowds and a larger event footprint,” Ottawa Police Acting Chief Steve Bell said during the interview. a press conference on Monday.

WATCH | Acting Chief of Police Steve Bell talks about plans for Canada Day:

Police promise ‘swift and decisive’ action against any attempt to occupy Canada Day

Ottawa Police Acting Chief Steve Bell says protesters will not be allowed to set up structures like sheds or tents, or hold their own dance parties on city streets.

“We have been making our plans in the shadow of the illegal protests and the Rolling Thunder event. We have spoken with members of the community and businesses and are very aware of the lingering trauma and concern over what they hear after these events.”

Bell said officers would allow lawful protests while stopping illegal activity, including setting up structures or loudspeakers without permits and threatening occupations, such as on downtown streets in winter. .

He said police were monitoring comments online and trying to speak to people who said they were coming to protest.

Two policemen escort someone.
Police arrest a person while working to clear an area of ​​Rideau Street during a convoy-style protest called Rolling Thunder in Ottawa on April 29, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

“[We’ve] expected, we are ready and we have the resources,” Bell replied when asked if the police were ready to intervene again as they did in late April, when attempts to gather near the Rideau Center mall were interrupted by officers.

Provincial police and the RCMP have offered to help put down attempted occupations while there is a risk, he said.

At least 5 days of traffic control

Last week, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told people considering coming to the capital “not to be intimidated by individuals who might come to Ottawa to cause trouble.”

He said on Monday he wanted the event to be safe and festive for children and families and for people who “come disruptive” to be dealt with, without warning.

Overall, Bell said police expect hundreds of thousands of people downtown. For comparison, around 56,000 people went to the shows on Parliament Hill in 2019 and that’s not counting everyone celebrating nearby.

Approximately 16,000 people attended the Noon on the Hill show in 2019. (Radio-Canada News)

There will be traditional Canada Day road closures Friday, July 1 and early Saturday, although there will be more closures near LeBreton Flats due to this change in show location.

But the Ottawa police are establishing another “vehicle exclusion zone” – similar to what was put in place at the end of April for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally – with no street parking and no protest vehicles allowed from 8am this Wednesday until at least 6am on Monday July 4th.

A map of police checkpoints in Ottawa.
Ottawa Police controls access to these parts of downtown, including two river bridges. All vehicles not involved in rallies or protests will be allowed entry, the city says, but drivers cannot park on the street. (City of Ottawa)

Those plans could change if necessary, officials said Monday. People are urged to plan ahead, expect delays, and check city pages and local media for updates.

OC Transpo and Outaouais Transit Company the service is free on July 1 and for OC Transpo, until 4 a.m. on July 2.