Time Plus News

Breaking News, Latest News, World News, Headlines and Videos

Increased police presence in downtown Ottawa after convoy protesters warned to leave

WorldNewsEra

Police are increasing their presence at the ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstration in Ottawa, with groups of officers arriving downtown and assembling near the protest zone.

It’s the latest sign that police action to break up the downtown Ottawa occupation could be imminent. On Wednesday, police handed out notices to demonstrators warning them to leave the area or face arrest.

New fencing has been erected on the Parliament Hill side of Wellington Street, right next to where many protesters have been camped out for three weeks. Later Thursday morning, crews also put up fencing outside the Senate building farther east on Wellington Street.

It’s unclear when and how police will move to end the demonstration. Ottawa’s new interim police chief suggested Wednesday night it could take several days to “execute and achieve” its operation to end the ongoing occupation.

“I will commit to council that we have a good, well-resourced plan that we will execute from now moving ahead to end the occupation in this city,” Steve Bell said during a dramatic city council meeting in which the city’s police board chair was ousted.

Bell added that while police have a “methodical and well-resourced plan” to take back the downtown core and all occupied spaces in Ottawa, it will take time.

“It’s not a quick turnaround. This is an operation that will take time over a number of days to actually execute and achieve,” Bell said. 

“Again, my deep desire is people leave our city. Those that are occupying our city, get in your vehicles and go home. We’re starting to actually increase pressure on them and encourage them to leave our streets. My absolute hope is that they do that prior to us having to intervene.”

Ottawa police issued a notice to demonstrators Wednesday warning they will face severe penalties if they do not remove their vehicle and/or property immediately from all unlawful protest sites.

Protesters showed no signs of leaving after the notices were handed out. Live music continued on Wellington Street into the early evening, several protesters could be seen using the hot tub that has been installed at Wellington and O’Connor streets, and children played at a makeshift daycare.

“You will be arrested and charged with criminal offences including but not limited to mischief, and potentially charged with a variety of other non-criminal offences,” police said.

“Your vehicle and property may be seized or removed. Your driver’s licence may be suspended or cancelled.”

In another sign more enforcement could be imminent, Ottawa bylaw is warning animal owners at the demonstration what will happen to their pets if they are arrested.

“If you are unable to care for your animal as a result of enforcement actions, your animal will be placed into protective care for 8 days, at your cost,” they tweeted. After that, if no arrangements are made, the animal “will be considered relinquished.”

Bell said he couldn’t share operational details with council, but insisted police have worked with the RCMP and OPP to secure the resources needed.

“Our partners have been extremely cooperative and helpful to us in allowing us to amass the resources that we do require to mount such an operation,” Bell said.

“We are continuing to build that capacity, we’re continuing to work with our partners to make sure before we entered into any sort of direct action that we would have the resources necessary in order to be able to do that.”

CITY MANAGER ‘VERY CONFIDENT’

As the city approaches the fourth weekend of the “Freedom Convoy” demonstration in downtown Ottawa, the city manager said he’s “feeling very confident” for the first time in a while that police can implement a plan.

“Have their been mistakes? Absolutely. Have there been some positive things that have been happening? Absolutely. Has it been perfect? No,” Steve Kanellakos said.

“I think they’re getting momentum. My sense is resources have come to the table and I’m feeling very confident for the first time in weeks that police are going to be able to take some action and implement the plan.”

Ottawa Bylaw officers have issued 600 parking tickets over the past three days in the red zone, and 3,000 parking tickets since the start of the demonstration in downtown Ottawa on Jan. 28.

More than 40 vehicles have been towed from city streets.

CLOSURES IN OTTAWA

Several roads remain closed in downtown Ottawa due to the ongoing occupation.

Ottawa City Hall, the underground parking garage and the Rink of Dreams remain closed.

The Ottawa Public Library Main and Rideau branches are closed today.

Ottawa Public Health says the vaccination clinic at the University of Ottawa Minto Sports Complex will be closed today.

UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA

The University of Ottawa says in-person activities on the main campus will be suspended until Monday.

“In light of ongoing developments near Parliament Hill, the University has made the decision to move academic and administrative activities online until Monday morning February 21,” uOttawa said in a statement on its website.

“This does not impact activities at Roger Guindon and the Lees Campus.”

Parking lots on the main campus will be closed and access to some buildings will be restricted.

Source link