Two local MPs want to expand the Parliamentary Precinct to include Wellington Street to ensure another "unlawful occupation" does not occur in the downtown core again.

Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi and Hull-Aylmer MP Greg Fergus have sent a letter to MP Bardish Chagger, the chair of the standing committee on procedure and house affairs, asking the committee to re-evaluate the boundaries of the Parliamentary Precinct to include Wellington and Sparks streets in Ottawa and Laurier Street in Gatineau.

"It is our view that the designation of this precinct will allow for more robust safety protocols to be put in place," the letter states.

"To be clear, this is not to stop lawful, peaceful protests – that are critical to a healthy, vibrant democracy like ours – but to ensure an unlawful occupation of our downtown core does not occur again."

The "Freedom Convoy" demonstration protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures rolled into downtown Ottawa on Jan. 28. Hundreds of vehicles and protesters blocked Wellington Street and other roads in the downtown core for more than three weeks before police moved in to clear the roads.

"The 24-day long unlawful occupation of downtown Ottawa was traumatic for both residents and businesses. Our communities, particularly Ottawa, were harassed, witnessed hurtful and racist symptoms, and the incessant honking was unbearable," the letter states.

The Parliamentary Precinct currently includes the buildings and the grounds on and around Parliament Hill.  The area covers the three city blocks on the south side of Wellington Street, between Elgin Street and Bank Street, along with the north side of Sparks Street.

Naqvi and Fergus say they also support making Wellington Street more accessible to residents and visitors, "who wish to walk, bike and roll in front of our important national institutions."

Last week, council approved a motion from Coun. Catherine McKenney to direct staff to begin discussions to possibly transfer Wellington Street into federal ownership.  Staff will also report back on the feasibility and cost of temporarily closing Wellington Street between Bank and Elgin streets until the end of 2022.

The city of Gatineau's has looked at extending its new STO Tram into Ottawa along Wellington Street.