Ottawa's police chief says additional police resources on the ground are the key to cutting off fuel supplies, removing vehicles from the downtown core and ending the 14-day demonstration and occupation of downtown Ottawa.

"The more resources, the more reinforcements the safer and quicker we can end this unlawful and unsafe demonstration here in the city," said Chief Peter Sloly.

On Monday, the city of Ottawa sent a request to the federal and Ontario governments for an additional 1,800 officers and staff to assist the Ottawa police operation for the protest over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures.

The RCMP has deployed 250 additional officers to Ottawa to assist the Ottawa Police Service. Sloly told reporters that staff are still in "very constructive and very productive discussions" with the RCMP, OPP and the 12 biggest police services in Ontario.

"We have information that indicates there will be other announcements in the next 24 to 48 hours," Sloly said, adding he is certain additional resources will be sent to Ottawa.

"There are a number of public order units that are coming from the GTHA police services that will be arriving today and over the weekend here in Ottawa for immediate deployment."

Twenty-five people have been arrested in connection with the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration in downtown Ottawa. Police say charges include public mischief, mischief, resisting police, and transportation of fuel.

An additional 1,775 tickets have been issued by police and bylaw for several infractions, including excessive noise and use of fireworks.

As of Thursday afternoon, 126 active criminal offence investigations are underway in connection to the demonstration.

This week, police have warned that people transporting fuel and materials will be arrested, and anyone blocking streets could be charged with mischief.

People are wondering why they still see fuel and materials being transported to vehicles inside the "Red Zone" outside of Parliament Hill.

"We are not able with the resources that we have right now to interdict all the sources of supports that are going to the demonstrators," said Sloly. "When we get more resources we will be able to take out fully those supply bases, we will be able to fully interdict those people bringing in gas canisters, we will be able to deploy enough resources to tag, tow and arrest those people who are committing bylaw offences, provincial offences and federal offences, particularly criminal code offences."

Twelve vehicles left the encampment at the Ottawa Baseball Stadium on Coventry Road on Thursday, while 10 trucks have departed the downtown core area.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 400 vehicles remaining on Wellington Street and streets around Parliament Hill.

Police say an investigation is underway after a demonstrator refused to stop for an officer near Bank and Flora around 12 p.m. Thursday and struck a cruiser. No one was hurt.

As vehicles remain parked in downtown Ottawa, some vehicles have been holding convoys on streets around the city. Just after 8 a.m., a group of 60 to 70 truck convoy protesters began driving slowly around the loop at the Ottawa International Airport and honking their horns.

One of the organizers said on a live feed of the demonstration that they planned to stay and slow-roll the airport for "hours."

An airport authority spokesperson said about 60 to 70 light trucks were circling the arrivals and departures roadways, and advised people with travel plans to give themselves extra time.

"Airport traffic is already extremely light due to the pandemic so the impact so far is minimal," Krista Kealey said in an email. "We are monitoring the situation with our security and airport policing teams and advise anyone who is travelling today to give themselves extra time to get to the airport."

"We are very disappointed that the protesters have chosen to disrupt an industry that has already been decimated by the pandemic," she added. "Disrupting our airport will hurt people who are already suffering, including passengers and employees who rely on our industry for their livelihood and wellbeing."

The roadways were clear by around 11 a.m.

The protesters' latest move came days after a judge granted a 10-day interim injunction to silence horn-honking downtown. However, that injunction only applies to a specific area in the city's core.

Ottawa police issued a warning Wednesday to protesters blocking downtown streets they could face criminal charges, and Bylaw Services is increasing fines for noise and idling violations in a bid to break up the demonstration that has gridlocked several downtown streets.

Police are warning people remaining in the demonstration zone that it is a criminal offence to obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.

"The unlawful act of blocking streets in the downtown core is resulting in people being denied the lawful use, enjoyment and operation of their property," police said, adding the offence is known as mischief to property. 

"We are providing you notice that anyone blocking streets or assisting others in the block of streets may be committing a criminal offence.  You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you may face charges."

Meantime, Ottawa Bylaw Services received judicial approval to increase fines for bylaw offences.

Fines for violations (previous fine in parentheses)

  • Noise Bylaw - $1,000 ($490)
  • Idling Bylaw - $1,000 ($100)
  • Use of Care of Road Bylaw - $1,000 ($350)
  • Open Air Fire Bylaw - $1,000 ($100)

911 LINE JAMMED BY CALLS 

On Thursday, police said people were flooding 911 and their non-emergency line with phone calls.

"We are aware of a concerted effort to flood our 911 and non-emergency policing reporting line," police tweeted. "This endangers lives and is completely unacceptable."

"It is a crime to unnecessarily call 911 or our non-emergency number (613-236-1222). We track calls and will charge anyone deliberately interfering with emergencies."

Chief Peter Sloly says police are certain the excessive calls that "almost jammed our 911 call system" were from elements supporting the core demonstrations in Ottawa and across the country.

"Our dispatchers have put in contingencies to move those calls away so we can still dispatch resources to emergency calls and to support our demonstrations," Sloly said, adding the calls were mainly from the United States.

"Those efforts of swatting and doxing our organizations and logistics have been ongoing throughout this demonstration."

CITY COMMITTEE MEETING DISRUPTED

Hackers appeared to disrupt the start of Ottawa's planning committee meeting to discuss the parking garage for the new Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus.

The message "OTTAWA POLICE HAS FAILED ITS CITIZENS" appeared on the YouTube stream of the meeting for several minutes.  The message later said, "Jim Watson has failed us. Sloly has failed us. Trudeau has failed us."

The meeting resumed a few minutes later with a new YouTube feed, and the hacked video feed was removed from the city's channel.

"We were able to resolve the security issue that allowed someone to briefly gain access to the livestream for the planning committee," Caitlin Salter-MacDonald, Ottawa's Manager of Council and Committee Services, told the committee when the meeting restarted.

"We believe that issue has been resolved, we've been in touch with IT and we'll be doing a review after the meeting to ensure that does not reoccur again."

In a statement Thursday afternoon, City Clerk Rick O'Connor said the security breach was the result of a "human error."

"Following our preliminary review with IT, this compromise was a result of human error in the Clerk’s Office, and has now been resolved," O'Connor said. "We are working with IT Security to review the incident with a view to ensuring that all appropriate steps are taken to prevent this from reoccurring in the future."

CONSERVATIVE PARTY CALLS FOR AN END TO THE BLOCKADES

The interim leader of the Conservative Party says it's time for the blockades around Parliament Hill and at border crossings in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario to come to an end.

"I believe the time has come for you to take down the barricades, stop the disruptive action, and come together," said Candice Bergen in the House of Commons.

"The economy that you want to see reopened, is hurting."

The opposition tabled a motion calling on the federal government to present a plan to lift all federal COVID-19 mandates and restrictions by the end of the month.

POSSIBLE SCHOOL PROTESTS

Ottawa's public school board says it is aware of posts on social media about "Freedom Convoy" demonstrators driving past schools.

"This idea is unacceptable," the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board said on Twitter.

"We have reached out to the Ottawa Police Service and know that they are monitoring the situation. While we have no reports of concerning activity from schools, our staff are aware and will continue to make safety our first priority."

The Renfrew County District School Board says it's aware of information circulating online inviting students, parents and others to protest at schools on Friday.

"As a precaution the District has been in touch with the Ontario Provincial Police to inform them of the potential for protests. Should a protest occur and it is judged to be unlawful or dangerous, the OPP will attend and assist," said the board in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

"The safety of our students is a priority and school staff will monitor to make certain that no bus and vehicle traffic is prohibited from entering or exiting school property.  This will be done as per our safe school procedures."

ENCAMPMENT IN GATINEAU

Gatineau police and fire are looking at how to put an end to bylaw infractions by demonstrators occupying the parking lot at the Zibi complex in the area of Laurier and Laval streets.

Several vehicles have been parked in the area since last week, across the Ottawa River from the main "Freedom Convoy" demonstration.

Police visited the site on Feb. 4 as a "courtesy visit" to make them aware of safety issues on the site. Police say officers returned to the site on Tuesday and Wednesday this week to see if the security risks had been addressed.

Police say officers notified the group on Wednesday of bylaw violations pertaining to the storage of hazardous materials, site accessibility, the distance between recreational vehicles and auxiliary heating systems.

People face fines ranging from $300 to $1,000.

Police say the Gatineau Fire Service has sent a letter to the occupants of the site notifying them of the violations, and the file is being submitted to the Gatineau legal department to determine actions needed to address the infractions.

Gatineau police have issued 246 statements since last Friday for traffic violations, including unnecessary honking, speeding, cellphone use while driving and exhaust system non-compliance.

COUNTER-PROTEST

Residents fed up with the ongoing occupation gathered at Ottawa police headquarters on Elgin Street Wednesday evening for another counter-protest.

“The citizens of Ottawa deserve a safe city to live in,” said Chris Ducas, one of the organizers. “We are looking to just get our city back. We are not trying to be confrontational with the occupiers or the police.”

Ducas said the group has hundreds of supporters online, but only a few are comfortable standing outside of police headquarters because of safety concerns.

He also called for a “full audit” of how things got to this point.

“there needs to be an understanding as to why the Ottawa police did not listen to the federal government in relation to keeping the trucks out of the downtown core,” he said, “There needs to be an apology to the residents…of the downtown core. Their lives have been terrorized over the last two weeks.”

“The police have failed them, frankly.”

INJUNCTION

The city of Ottawa's top lawyer says the city is in conversation with Ottawa police about a possible injunction targeting the demonstration.

"My team is ready to move quickly, we are prepared ... that material is ready to go, we just need to identify what we would be asking the court to stop. And then what the enforcement tools would look like," city solicitor David White said.

White says the city must ensure the injunction application isn't too broad and police can enforce it.

- with files from CTV News Ottawa's Natalie van Rooy and Dylan Dyson, and CTVNews.ca Online Politics Producer Rachel Aiello