'Traumatic experience': Ottawa business upset after vehicle convoy rolls into town
As a vehicle convoy protesting COVID-19 restrictions rolled out of the Ottawa area, a downtown business owner says the weekend slow-roll demonstration was a "traumatic experience" following last month's Freedom Convoy demonstration.
Approximately 300 vehicles took part in the demonstration through downtown Ottawa on Saturday afternoon to protest vaccine mandates and other public health restrictions.
The convoy, which originated in Saint-Lambert-de-Lauzon, Que., honked down King Edward Avenue, Laurier Avenue and O'Connor Street, before leaving Ottawa to head to Vankleek Hill.
"It was a bit of a traumatic experience, a few seconds of saying not again," said Devinder Chaudhary, owner of Aiana Restaurant.
The so-called "Next Generation" convoy arrived in Ottawa just over a month after police moved in to remove the "Freedom Convoy" occupation from Wellington Street and roads around Parliament Hill.
Chaudhary says the protest is a reminder that many businesses could still be at risk while trying to recover from the extended closures during the demonstration.
"Even today, I think many people associate the downtown core with chaos," Chaudhary said.
Horizon Ottawa is calling on people "frustrated by the actions" of Ottawa police during Saturday's protest to sign up to address the Ottawa Police Services Board meeting on Monday. Several people expressed frustration with Ottawa police tweets outlining the police response to the protest, including designating a restricted route for the "safe passage" of the convoy.
"We appreciate that this convoy was unwelcome for many residents and businesses," police said on Saturday. "All legal authorities were examined or used in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
The "Next Generation" convoy, made up of motorists mostly from Quebec, said Sunday they were going to Quebec's National Assembly in Quebec City.
FUNDING FOR RESTAURANTS
The convoy arrived as downtown restaurants hurt by the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration in Ottawa began receiving funding from a crowdfunding campaign.
An Ottawa-based GoFundMe raised money to help cover some of the lost revenue during the four-week demonstration.
"We were able to raise about $100,000," Chaudhary said. "We were able to give grants ranging to $1,000 to $3,000 to 42 establishments."