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Biden visits Ottawa: U.S. president wraps up two-day trip to Ottawa

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Heavy security and sparse crowds gathered in downtown Ottawa for day two of U.S. President Joe Biden's whirlwind visit to the capital.

Biden travelled from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier to Parliament Hill on Friday morning, where he attended a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and delivered an address to Parliament. Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended a "gala dinner" at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum before departing Ottawa late Friday evening.

A small crowd gathered along Wellington Street to watch the president's motorcade drive to Parliament Hill. One person was carrying a giant Canadian flag. 

Josh Arless was in downtown Ottawa to try to see Biden.

"It has been a really long time since a president has come to Ottawa and I am hoping to get a glimpse through the ‘beast’ window before he gets to Parliament Hill," Arless said.

The 45-minute delay for the motorcade didn't discourage onlookers from wanting to catch a glimpse of the president and the massive security detail.

"It is just one of those things you never know when you are going to see again," Emily Dewolf said.

Dual citizen Jessica Matwick told CTV News Ottawa it was "exciting" to see President Biden travel through the streets of Ottawa.

"Even though I lived in D.C. for 12 years and have seen all of this myself, to see the beast going by and earlier when FLOTUS went by and the motorcade, you know you're not in the States, you know you're here, it was just exciting to see," Matwick said while standing on Wellington Street.

David, who did not provide his last name, said they will spend time in downtown Ottawa hoping to see Biden on a walkabout.

"We're going to stay close by and see if we can meet him."

Matthew Anardi is a student at the University of Ottawa. He says as a dual citizen, it was an important moment to see.

"It is pretty cool to see the two leaders of the two countries and to see all the decorations... and the security is like, wow!" Anardi said.

Charley Kopla is also a student and says, "I have some American family, so it was cool that I got to see the president before them, and it is so cool that in Ottawa we get these kind of things.”

There were also some tourists visiting the capital who did not know the U.S. president was in town and were surprised to see the security. The Scribas are visiting from Germany and said this would be a moment their young son will appreciate when he is older.

"We took lots of photos; he was waving at the police cars, and he had a bit of fun!"

There is a heightened security presence around the Parliamentary Precinct during Biden's visit, with several roads closed and Ottawa police, the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police and other police forces in place.

The U.S. President did not take a side-trip to any destinations during his 27-hour visit to the capital.

A police officer uses sighting equipment to observe a perimeter as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden take part in a meeting on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Friday, March 24, 2023. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Here's a look at what you need to know about President Biden's second day in Ottawa.

President Biden's itinerary for Friday

11:15 a.m. – Biden was scheduled to arrive on Parliament Hill for a welcoming ceremony inside West Block. However, he arrived late and the welcome ceremony began about 30 minutes behind schedule.

He was then scheduled to attend a bilateral meeting with Trudeau, then the two will have a larger meeting with officials from both the U.S. and Canadian governments.

1:50 p.m. – Biden addresses Parliament

3:45 p.m. – Biden and Trudeau will hold a joint media availability at the Sir John A. Macdonald building

6:30 p.m. – Biden, the first lady and the American delegation will attend a "gala dinner" hosted by Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

A senior U.S. official told reporters Biden will have a pull-aside meeting with Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre today.

First Lady of the United States itinerary

Jill Biden and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau are scheduled to attend several events today.

Biden and Gregoire Trudeau visited youth taking part in a curling program at the Rideau Curling Club and hosted a "conversation to discuss youth wellness and mental health."

First lady Jill Biden, and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau watch as youth playing curling at the Rideau Curling Club during U.S. President Joe Biden's official trip in Ottawa, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Spencer Colby/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The two also visited the National Gallery of Canada, where they'll take in an exhibit by Canadian women artists.

Road Closures

There will be several road closures and traffic disruptions in Ottawa today due to the president's visit.

The following city of Ottawa roads will be closed until 11 p.m.:

  • Wellington Street, between Metcalfe Street and Mackenzie Avenue
  • Rideau Street, between Mackenzie Avenue and Dalhousie Street
  • Elgin Street, between Queen and Wellington streets
  • Mackenzie Avenue, between Murray and Rideau streets
  • Colonel By Drive, between Daly Avenue and Rideau Street
  • Sussex Drive (southbound), between Rideau and George streets

There will be temporary disruptions on the following roads throughout the day:

  • Wellington Street (westbound), between Kent and Metcalfe streets
  • Wellington Street (eastbound), between Lyon and Metcalfe streets
  • Metcalfe Street, between Queen and Wellington streets
  • O’Connor Street, between Queen and Wellington streets
  • Bank Street, between Queen and Wellington streets
  • Sussex Drive, between Rideau Street and Princess Avenue
  • Princess Avenue, between Sir George-Étienne Parkway and Sussex Drive
  • Sir George-Étienne Parkway, between Bearbrook Road and Princess Avenue
  • Aviation Parkway, north of Montreal Road
  • Airport Parkway, between the Ottawa International Airport and Bronson Avenue
  • Bronson Avenue, between Holmwood Avenue and Airport Parkway
  • Colonel By Drive, between Hog’s Back Road and Daly Avenue
  • Sussex Drive, between George Street and Princess Avenue

While President Biden's motorcade is moving, the Macdonald-Cartier and Alexandra bridges will have "intermittent and temporary closures in both directions" for all vehicular, cyclist and pedestrian traffic.

Where to see the U.S. President

Neither the White House nor the Prime Minister's Office has said whether there will be any impromptu stops for the U.S.president while in Ottawa.

People will be able to see the president as the motorcade travels through the Parliamentary Precinct and to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.

In 2009, former President Barack Obama visited the ByWard Market during his first visit to the capital.

OC Transpo

OC Transpo says bus service will be detoured from Rideau Street to the Mackenzie King Bridge due to the president's visit. The following routes will be detoured until 10 p.m. Friday - 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 97, 99, 111, 299.

Some OC Transpo bus routes and Para Transpo service will experience travel delays due to road closures and various routes will experience detours during select time periods.

The O-Train will be operating as regularly scheduled, with stops at Rideau Station.

Aircraft over Ottawa

Transport Canada announced Thursday morning it has issued a NOTAM (notice to air missions) restricting the operation of all aircraft, including drones, within a five nautical mile radius of Parliament Hill (about 9 kilometres). They have also issued the same restriction within a 24 nautical mile radius of the Ottawa airport (about 44 kilometres).

The notices will be in effect until 10 p.m. Friday, about the length of the president's planned stay. Regularly scheduled commercial and cargo flights, along with police, military and medevac flights, are excluded from those restrictions.

NORAD warns Ottawa residents may see military aircraft in the sky during President Biden's visit to the capital.

CF-18 Hornet fighter jets and CH-146 Griffon helicopters may be in the skies over Ottawa.

A RCMP helicopter circles over Parliament Hill in Ottawa Friday, March 24, 2023, in advance of the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Where to watch live coverage

Live coverage of the visit continues today on CTV News Channel. For the latest updates on the trip, including Biden’s address to Parliament, follow our live blog launching Friday on CTVNews.ca and the CTV News app.

With files from CTV News senior digital parliamentary reporter Rachel Aiello

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