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'We need an additional surge of resources:' Ottawa police chief

Ottawa's police chief says police need "an additional surge of resources" to help deal with the protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures in downtown Ottawa.

An estimated 1,000 vehicles and 5,000 people packed Parliament Hill and downtown streets Saturday afternoon for the ninth day of the "Freedom Convoy" protest.

The protest has seen demonstrators park trucks and vehicles on Wellington Street and other downtown streets. Residents have been frustrated with the sound of horns blaring, along with fireworks late at night.

"Our city is under siege," said Diane Deans, Ottawa Police Services Board chair and councillor.

"This group is emboldened by the lack of enforcement by every level of government. They are terrorizing our residents, torturing them with insentient honking, threatening them and preventing them from leading their lives."

The cross-Canada convoy protesting vaccine mandates started arriving in Ottawa on Jan. 28.

Deans called a special Ottawa Police Services Board meeting with one hour’s notice Saturday afternoon.

"This group is a threat to our democracy. What we're seeing is bigger than just a city of Ottawa problem, this is a nationwide insurrection. This is madness; we need a concrete plan to put an end to this now."

Speaking directly to Chief Peter Sloly, Deans asked, "Do you believe that you are still able to provide, given the fluid situation of this occupation, adequate and effective policing to the residents of our city?"

Sloly told the board that this is an "unprecedented" situation, saying, "As I look at the definition of adequate and effective policing, there is literally nothing in that definition of adequate and effective policing that could resolve a city under siege, that is a democracy threatened by a nationwide insurrection driven by madness."

The chief told the board that staff did not have adequate time to provide a full update on policing for the special meeting.

"Ottawa residents are frustrated and angry, so are we quite frankly. They have every right to be; their lives in our city are being severely impacted by unlawful acts on our streets," said Sloly.

"The Ottawa Police Service, our policing partners are doing everything within the power of the Police Services Act as its been designed as legislation and as we've been resourced under that legislation. I am doing everything in my power to keep the peace, keep our residents and our businesses safe and allow a sense of normalcy to come back in the quickest and safest way possible.  This is an unprecedented situation but we have learned from our experience and yes, our mistakes."

Sloly says Ottawa police have received support from Ontario Provincial Police, the RCMP and seven municipal police services.

Police announced an additional 275 RCMP officers are being sworn-in with Special Constable status to assist with the demonstration enforcement. Sloly said those officers would be deployed immediately.

The meeting comes one day after police announced 150 additional uniformed and non-uniformed officers would be deployed in the Centretown, ByWard Market and Lowertown neighbourhoods.

Ottawa police say they have responded to over 400 calls for service related to the demonstrations since they began. In total, over 50 criminal offences are being investigated.

"Eleven of those were hate crimes which resulted in charges against four people," said police on Twitter. 

Police said Saturday evening that seven people have been arrested and 70 traffic violations have been issued so far.

Several hundred people attended a counter-protest at Ottawa City Hall Saturday afternoon, calling for an end to the demonstration.

Road closures in Ottawa

Ottawa police and the OPP temporarily closed roads, interprovincial bridges and highway off-ramps into the downtown core on Saturday to control traffic flow into the core.

Roads from Dalhousie Street to Bay Street and Albert Street to Wellington Street remain closed, and police are once again urging people to avoid travelling in the downtown core.

Ottawa police said there will be sporadic closures today on the following roads

Hwy. 417 westbound

  • Nicholas
  • Metcalfe
  • Bronson
  • Parkdale
  • Island Park

Hwy. 417 eastbound

  • Parkdale
  • Rochester
  • Kent
  • Metcalfe
  • Nicholas
  • Vanier
  • St. Laurent

Motorists may also experience closures along the highways at the Aviation Parkway, Woodroffe Avenue, Walkley Road, Montreal Road and Hwy. 174.

The city of Ottawa also said the Sir George Etienne Cartier Parkway is closed between the Aviation Parkway and Sussex Drive due to the demonstration

Extraordinary measures needed, say Deans

Deans asked City Solicitor David White if the federal or provincial government have the power to declare a state of emergency to end the protest in downtown Ottawa, or if the federal government could invoke the Emergencies Act.

"This in my mind is an extraordinary emergency and we need extraordinary measures, I believe that we need to ask every level of government to use the powers and the authorities that they have to declare the emergencies that we need to bring this situation to a peaceful ending," said Deans.

"We cannot allow this kind of terrorism in our community to continue in this way."

Coun. Carol Anne Meehan wanted the chair of the board to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford and top government officials to make ending this protest a priority.

"The prime minister has to make a statement on this. They're not going to go away until they hear from him," said Meehan. "He can't ignore this anymore."

The chair responded to Meehan that "I'm not sure meeting with terrorists is something that he's going to do."

Deans floated the idea of asking the upper levels of government to implement a curfew.

“What I heard today is that we should be asking everyone who has power to act now, because we are in a crisis situation," said Deans.

"So there are other levels of government that have more power than we have that could enact pieces of legislation that could set curfews in place and could reduce the risk to the public, and we need to ask every single level of government to push the levers that they have that will most effectively bring about an end to this.”

Councillor questions extra officers

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney says the extra officers deployed into downtown Ottawa "has made no difference."

Ottawa police announced Friday up to 150 uniformed and non-uniformed officers would be deployed into the Centretown, ByWard Market and Lowertown areas.

However, McKenney says it has made no difference.

"To Centretown residents and all others who are affected by the growing occupation of our city: On Friday, we were promised extra officers in our neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, this extra 'surge' in police has resulted in only 20-25 officers in all of Centretown," said McKenney on Twitter.

"The harassment and illegal activities continue with impunity."

McKenney renewed the call for the federal government to have the RCMP take over full operational control of the Parliamentary Precinct to allow OPS to focus on neighbourhoods.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury is also calling for assistance from provincial and federal partners to deal with the protest.

"Residents of Lowertown, Sandy Hill, and Vanier: I hear you. It is far too loud downtown and this occupation has gone on far too long," said Fleury. "This is larger than the City of Ottawa. We need further assistance from Provincial and Federal partners."

On Friday, Moo Shu Ice Cream on Bank Street said it was closing until Feb. 9 due to the demonstration.

"One of our staff was physically assaulted on their way to work today, blocked on the sidewalk by two men and shoved to the ground for wearing a mask," said Moo Shu Ice Cream on Twitter.

"Based on the accounts we've heard from our neighbours, this behaviour is not an isolated incident."

Gridlock frustration 

"It's kind of a circus," said Toronto resident Marlon McWhinney while trying to navigate traffic in downtown Ottawa on Saturday.

Several roads and highway off-ramps were temporarily closed on Saturday as police attempted to slow down the flow of vehicles into Ottawa.

"I’ve driven to the grocery store .. lots of trucks everywhere," said Alyssa Perryman. "Normally 5-10 minutes but lately it’s been taking longer, more like 20-30 minutes."

Noah Vaillaigon says it's tough to get around the downtown core.

"Having big delays and having people needing to go around with different bus routes can be very frustrating."

Meantime, David Ganzon says with the Rideau Centre and other businesses closed, there's not much to do in town.

“Where we are at is just blocked down everywhere. Malls closed and such. Not much to do."

At ByWard Nut House, business is slow.

"It’s definitely affecting our business. We are open and there’s nobody coming in," said Udichi Luitel.


The Freedom Convoy demonstration has set up a camp in the parking lot at the RCGT Park on Coventry Road.

CTV News Ottawa's Jeremie Charron says it appears to be a command centre for the convoy, with multiple large tents set up and at least 100 vehicles.

There are also several large saunas and propane and fuel supplies.

Acting Deputy Chief Trish Ferguson says police have been speaking with people at the stadium about the situation, adding they are being cooperative.

"We do recognize that has now become a staging area and a refueling area for them, so we are looking at addressing it."

Police are working with the Ottawa Fire Service to see what avenues are available to enforce the laws and ensure the area is "rendered safe."

Increased security in downtown Ottawa

People visiting downtown Ottawa will see increased security measures, along with more officers.

Police set up concrete and heavy equipment barricades on several streets to create "no-access" roadways.

Fences have also been installed around the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Last weekend, photos showed vehicles parked at the memorial, and people using the monument as a washroom.

Ottawa police are investigating the desecration of the National War Memorial last Saturday, after video showed someone dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

A fence has been installed around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National War Memorial on Friday, Feb. 4. (Natalie Van Rooy/CTV News Ottawa

Community safety walks called off

Councillors Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney and Shawn Menard had scheduled the second of three community safety walks in the Centretown area today, but by noon, as the number of protesters started to grow, they advised residents to stay away.

"After evaluation, it is not safe to go downtown. Please avoid the area," Leiper said on Twitter.

McKenney urged residents to organize walks in their own neighbourhoods, but to avoid the area of Bank and Somerset.

"Please do not go down to this area. It is not safe today. Find a friend and walk in your own neighborhoods," they said.

Menard thanked those who did come out and urged residents to be safe.

"We helped get people out safely. Thank you to the people that did come. Today is busy down here, walk with a buddy if services or groceries needed," he said.


Gatineau police issued more than 80 tickets to motorists for violations in connection to the Freedom Convoy protest.

Police say the violations included more than 20 for using unnecessary audible warning device. The fine is $173.

Lawsuit filed against protest organizers

A hearing into a proposed $9.8 million class-action lawsuit over the constant honking on behalf of residents of the city's downtown core has been adjourned until Monday.

According to a statement of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday by lawyer Paul Champ, the lawsuit is seeking $4.8 million for “private nuisance” and another $5 million in “punitive damages.”

Lawyer Paul Champ will be in court Saturday afternoon to argue for an injunction to stop the incessant horn honking, which has been used as a tactic by the demonstrators for more than a week.

"The air horns and train horns that they use go from 105 to 120 decibels non-stop. If you've heard a train horn going by you, that can be quite loud. Imagine it going on for 20 minutes straight, every hour on the hour. It's become unbearable to live in downtown Ottawa," Champ told Newstalk 580 CFRA's CFRA Live with Andrew Pinsent.

He says he's confident there will be an injunction.

"The evidence is pretty overwhelming, about the harm," Champ said. "We have medical evidence showing how that cause permanent hearing loss, disturbing sleep. We think we've got a pretty strong case to get this order."

However, a court injunction does still require some manner of enforcement. Champ says he doesn't know how police will approach it, but the injunction would create additional penalties for those violating the order.

"The police will make their operational decisions about whether they feel it's safe or not," Champ said. "The key here is that once we have that court order, any trucker who keeps blowing those horns knows that they're in contempt of court and that's a criminal offence and will be held against them at some later date, I can guarantee you that."

Meanwhile, An online fundraiser for the trucker convoy protests has been removed by GoFundMe after raising more than $10 million.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Jeremie Charron and Natalie Van Rooy Top Stories


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