Motor vehicle control zone comes into effect around Parliament Hill, 28 vehicles towed
A multi-block vehicle control zone is in effect around Parliament Hill, meant to prevent a second occupation of downtown Ottawa by protesters associated with last winter’s “Freedom Convoy” movement.
Ottawa Bylaw says 120 parking tickets were issued and 28 vehicles were towed Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The area stretching from Colonel By Drive/Sussex Drive in the east, Wellington Street in the north, Booth Street in the west and Laurier Avenue in the south will not be closed to vehicles, but will be restricted.
“Motor vehicles taking part in any form of demonstration, event, protest or rally will not be permitted,” the city says. “Barricades, heavy equipment or police officers and vehicles will be at various access points surrounding the control zone, to filter lawful traffic onto those streets.”
The control zone will be in effect from 8 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Monday. There will also be road closures on Canada Day.
The vehicle control zone is one of the measures the Ottawa Police Service is taking to prevent a repeat of last February, when protesters parked heavy trucks throughout the downtown core and set up a makeshift village to protest the federal Liberal government and COVID-19 public health protections. Police eventually removed them, empowered by the first-ever invocation of the federal Emergencies Act.
Interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell is assuring residents that last winter’s occupation will not be repeated.
“There won’t be occupiers because all of our planning is established around ensuring that people do not occupy our streets, that people do not take over areas of Ottawa,” Bell told the Ottawa Police Services Board on Monday. “We’ve set very deliberate plans and we’ve resourced those plans so that occupation does not again occur.”
Speaking on CTV News at Noon on Tuesday, Bell said the police have not forgotten what happened five months ago.
“The trauma our community suffered in February is front of centre through all of our planning,” he said. “Canada Day is about celebrating our country… We want to encourage people to come down and we want to let them know that you can come down to a large area that will have a festive environment to it.”
Bell says all lawful protests will be permitted, but illegal activity will not be tolerated. Ottawa Bylaw is also saying there is zero tolerance for setting up tables, tents, or other materials on roads and sidewalks in the city.
Mayor Jim Watson says the city learned from the occupation.
“We got ahead of the situation this time, we didn’t last time. Last time, obviously, things swirled out of control,” Watson told CTV Morning Live on Wednesday. “If 18-wheelers start to show up on residential streets, they’ll be ticketed and towed away. You’re not allowed to an 18-wheeler on a residential street taking up four or five parking spots. There will be zero tolerance.”
Ottawa Bylaw says enforcement of no stopping zones is already underway.