The aftermath of the Freedom Convoy demonstration in Ottawa: Five stories to watch this week
Police vehicles are parked on a pedestrian walkway between Rideau Street and George Street in downtown Ottawa. Feb. 20, 2022. (Jeremie Charron/CTV News Ottawa)
The clean-up begins after the "Freedom Convoy" is moved out of Ottawa and council meets for the first time since an emotional meeting.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.
CLEANING UP AFTER THE 'FREEDOM CONVOY' DEMONSTRATION
Businesses and restaurants in downtown Ottawa will begin to reopen this week, as the clean-up continues from the three-week "Freedom Convoy" demonstration.
The intersection of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive reopened Sunday evening, while southbound Mackenzie Avenue, northbound Sussex Drive and Colonel By Drive are open.
Police said businesses that have been closed since the demonstration began Jan. 28, "should feel safe to reopen," adding there will continue to be a "strong police presence" in the red zone in the days ahead.
"Businesses and residents, we thank you for your patience throughout this operation. Supporting local businesses is considered lawful if you are entering the secured area," police said on Twitter.
The Metropolitain Brasserie on Sussex Drive announced it would reopen at 5 p.m. Monday.
Ottawa police have not said when the secured area around downtown Ottawa will be lifted.
"They will be in place only as long as necessary to remove the unlawful protests," Interim police chief Steve Bell said Thursday.
Speaking on CTV's Question Period on Sunday, Mayor Jim Watson didn't say when secured checkpoints and the increased police presence would end.
"We'll continue to have increased enforcement in and around the residential areas," Watson said, noting police have promised not to leave until the city is "safely returned to the people of Ottawa."
"We want to make sure that it's like putting out a fire. You don't want to have that one last ember light up again. You need to have the force that we had through the different police services to ensure that this thing ends peacefully, as quickly as possible."
O-Train service will resume on Monday in the downtown core, with trains serving Lees, uOttawa, Rideau, Parliament and Lyon Stations.
INVESTIGATION INTO THE FREEDOM CONVOY
While the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration is gone from downtown Ottawa, police say the investigation will continue into the days and weeks ahead.
As of 4 p.m. Sunday, 191 people had been arrested since the operation began to clear the Parliamentary Precinct. Ottawa police say of those arrested, 107 people were charged.
Interim police chief Steve Bell told reporters on Saturday the investigation into the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration will be "complicated and time consuming."
"You have my commitment that, that investigation will continue and we will hold people accountable for taking our streets over."
Bail hearings are scheduled on Tuesday for Tamara Lich and Pat King, two of the organizers of the demonstration facing charges.
Council will meet Wednesday for the first time since an emotional council meeting that saw the chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board removed from her position and a councillor call on Mayor Jim Watson to resign.
Councillors may receive an update on the city of Ottawa and Ottawa police response to the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration that blocked city streets for more than three weeks.
Last Wednesday, council voted to remove Diane Deans as chair of the police board. The move came one day after Peter Sloly resigned as chief of police.
Coun. Carol Anne Meehan and Rawlson King resigned from the police services board during the meeting.
During the debate, councillors took aim at the mayor for his leadership during the demonstration that occupied downtown Ottawa for 24 days.
"I think the mayor of the city of Ottawa should resign tonight, because this city is in chaos and it doesn't need to be," Meehan said during Wednesday's meeting.
"Mayor Watson, I have lost all confidence in you as mayor of the city of Ottawa," said Coun. Catherine McKenney.
ALL EYES ON COVID NUMBERS
All eyes will be on the key COVID-19 indicators in Ottawa now that more COVID-19 restrictions have been eased.
"Monitoring indicators tell us that the level of Omicron is continuing to decline," medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said in a special statement last week.
"We have seen signs of a significant decrease in COVID-19 activity, including a decline in wastewater signals, test positivity rates and new hospitalization and outbreaks in hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes."
Etches urges people to be cautious, especially those at higher risk of severe illness.
Last Thursday, Ontario eased COVID-19 restrictions for a number of non-essential settings where proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants and gyms.
Private social gathering sizes increase to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
FRAUD AND WASTE HOTLINE
Three employees resigned and one employee was terminated following tips to Ottawa's Fraud and Waste Hotline last year.
The audit committee will receive an update from Auditor General Nathalie Gougeon on Tuesday.
The Fraud and Waste Hotline received 301 unique reports in 2021, a 48 per cent increase from 2020.
Geogeon's report says one employee was fired for submitting fake vaccination documents.
One supervisor resigned after the auditor general found they approved three employees taking long coffee breaks using city vehicles. The auditor general said the supervisor was also found to be using city internet for personal reasons.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN OTTAWA THIS WEEK
Ottawa Audit Committee meeting – 9:30 a.m.
Ottawa Carleton District School Board meeting – 7 p.m.
Ottawa Catholic School Board meeting – 7 p.m.
Minnesota Wild at Ottawa Senators – 7 p.m. at Canadian Tire Centre
Ottawa City Council meeting – 10 a.m.
Ottawa Planning Committee meeting – 9:30 a.m.