Protesters build wooden structure in downtown Ottawa park
The National Capital Commission says it is working with Ottawa police on the "next steps" to deal with protesters setting up a camp at Confederation Park, after a wooden structure was built and gas and fuel supplies were stored in the park.
There are signs "Freedom Convoy" protesters are settling in for the long haul in downtown Ottawa after building a permanent structure, setting up tents, and stocking up on supplies.
CTV News reporters visiting Confederation Park on Thursday afternoon saw protesters building a wooden structure, which has been described on social media as a community kitchen. A fenced area contained dozens of fuel canisters and propane tanks being stored.
On Friday, the wooden structure was finished and propane canisters were set up outside the building. People in the park say the structure is now in operation, serving as a kitchen for volunteers, protesters and anyone needing food. A propane barbecue and tents are also set up in the park.
Vehicles and campers have been parked in Confederation Park since last weekend.
Confederation Park, next to the Rideau Canal Skateway, is National Capital Commission property. The park at the corner of Elgin Street and Laurier Avenue is five blocks from Parliament Hill, where hundreds of people have been protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures since last Friday.
"The NCC is aware of this situation," the NCC said in a statement on Twitter Thursday, replying to photos posted by CTV News reporter Annie Bergeron-Oliver.
"We are working with Ottawa Police to seek assistance on securing the site. We can confirm that the canisters have been removed from the site."
However, a CTV News reporter at the scene confirmed there were still propane and gas canisters in the park just before 6 p.m.
On Friday morning, a CTV News Ottawa reporter found no gas cans or diesel canisters in a fenced area where they were located yesterday. A truck parked in the area had several yellow canisters in the back.
In a statement on Friday, the National Capital Commission told CTV News Ottawa, "The NCC is working with Ottawa Police Service on addressing the next steps on site. We will continue to provide updates to the public as the situation evolves."
City of Ottawa officials were not aware of the set up in Confederation Park when contacted by CTV News Ottawa.
During an interview on CTV News Channel's Power Play, Mayor Jim Watson called the structure and canisters "stupid" and "dangerous."
"That structure should be taken down. I don’t know what they're going to use it for; but it's on federal property, it's in a park," said Watson.
"These individuals seem to not think beyond their noises. Putting those two volatile products side-by-side does not make any sense, and the last thing we need is some explosion where someone gets hurt or killed."
On Friday, people walking by the park wondered why a camp was allowed to set up.
"I don't think they should be allowed to occupy a public space," said one person.
"I am a Centretown resident and I am at my wits' end," said another pedestrian.
On Wednesday, the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, the Algonuin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council and the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg released a statement saying it does not support the truckers convoy and the Confederation Park setup on the Algonquin Nation Lands/Territory.
Last Friday, council was told the city had arranged for 15 portable toilet facilities to be installed on Queen Elizabeth Driveway under the Laurier Avenue West overpass, next to Confederation Park.
With files from CTV News Ottawa's Leah Larocque, and CTV News Annie Bergeron Oliver and Mackenzie Gray