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15 vehicles towed, dozens of tickets issued as rally marks one-year anniversary of ‘Freedom Convoy’ in Ottawa

Ottawa Police say there are “no issues to report” as hundreds of people gathered in the Parliamentary District to mark the one-year anniversary of the “Freedom Convoy’s” arrival in downtown Ottawa.

A large, visible police presence kept tabs on the rally and dance party on Parliament Hill and Wellington Street on Saturday afternoon. Access to Parliament Hill has been restricted and parking restrictions are in place downtown as Ottawa police and city officials try to prevent a repeat of last year’s event that occupied the streets for more than three weeks.

Parliamentary Protective Service officers arrested two people for trespassing on Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon.

As of 4:30 pm, police and law enforcement officials had issued 81 parking tickets and 20 provincial crime notices, while 15 vehicles had been towed from downtown.

“We will remain in the downtown core all weekend,” the police said on Twitter.

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe told CTV News the Ottawa Police Department had not reported any problems as of mid-afternoon.

“As long as the protests are peaceful and don’t significantly disturb the public, that they don’t make noise that traumatizes or upsets Centretown residents, they don’t block roads or bring vehicles in illegally. You’re welcome to demonstrate and voice your opinions,” he said Sutcliffe on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s not a large number of people and it’s not causing a lot of disruption at the moment. I think a lot of things are normal, business as usual.”

Ottawa Bylaw said on Twitter his officers were met with “aggression” Saturday afternoon while performing enforcement duties downtown.

“Interference in investigations and aggression toward law enforcement will not be tolerated,” the Ottawa Ordinance said.

Legal officials performing their duties related to ongoing downtown events have faced aggression.

Interference with investigations and aggression towards law enforcement agencies will not be tolerated. #OttCity #OttNews https://t.co/vASeJDg06z pic.twitter.com/k0DY0waNwP

— Bylaw of Ottawa (@OttawaBylaw)
January 28, 2023

On Saturday afternoon, a large group of people gathered on Parliament Hill waving Canadian flags and US flags and chanting “Freedom.” Drivers reported seeing some people with Canadian flags on the highway. 416 overpasses towards Ottawa.

“For me, this weekend was more about a reunion,” said protester Chris Dacey while standing on Parliament Hill. “If you have a problem with the government, you should come here today and tomorrow to speak to the government.”

“That’s our voice, we’ve been suppressed, we’ve been censored, we’ve basically been shut down,” Howard said while standing on Parliament Hill.

Crowd gathers on Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill for the one year anniversary of the launch of the Freedom Convoy. #ottnews pic.twitter.com/PiUP8W7LOX

— Josh Pringle (@PringleJosh)
January 28, 2023

Two events were planned for Parliament Hill on Saturday, including a “1 year celebration of the arrival of the truckers” at 12pm, followed by a dance party.

Just before noon, dozens of people had gathered on Wellington Street, waving Canadian flags as police looked on. A protest organizer encouraged the group to move to Parliament Hill and said they had permission to hold the rally on Parliament Hill.

Throughout the afternoon, a crowd gathered around the Centennial Flame, waving flags and chanting “Freedom.” Someone wrote “Freedom” in the snow on the lawn of the hill.

“Let’s get rid of (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau,” one person said.

The events took place a year to the day that trucks arrived in the Parliamentary District to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures. The Freedom Convoy demonstration occupied downtown streets for more than three weeks before police moved in to remove the trucks and end the protest.

Police and law enforcement vowed there would be “enhanced enforcement” in the downtown core throughout the weekend, and officers will take a zero-tolerance approach to parking, noise and fireworks violations.

Officers from the Ottawa Police, Parliamentary Protection Service, Ontario Provincial Police and RCMP were able to patrol the Parliamentary District on foot and in vehicles on Saturday afternoon.

“Several police forces have taken up their positions across Ottawa,” police said on Twitter Saturday morning. “Illegal activities and/or attempts to occupy roads with vehicles will be responded to quickly. Residents and visitors will see an increased police presence in the downtown core.”

Some Centretown residents admit the return of protesters to downtown Ottawa has sparked concern in the community.

“When the convoy first came, they parked right in front of our houses and harassed the student population,” said Chantal Nlouie.

“It’s a bit unsettling that they’re back, but it’s also not as extreme as it was then.”

Dozens of people gathered on Wellington Street and Parliament Hill to mark the one year anniversary of the Freedom Convoy as police increased their presence in the Parliamentary District. #ottnews pic.twitter.com/NdlwOnrFkN

— Josh Pringle (@PringleJosh)
January 28, 2023

The Parliamentary Protection Service said it expects up to 500 people to gather on Parliament Hill for events marking the convoy’s one-year anniversary this weekend, while Somerset Coun. Ariel Troster said protesters had permission to hold a “dance party” on the hill.

Chief Eric Stubbs said police have “resources, logistics, traffic, towing and staffing plans to address any type of scenario.”

Bylaw Services will also have additional officers at its core to enforce all parking regulations and issue speeding tickets for anyone violating other City of Ottawa statutes, including:

  • Unnecessary vehicle or other noise, including speakers
  • construction or installation of structures on municipal property
  • Public urination and defecation
  • fire outdoors
  • littering
  • Light and fire fireworks

The city says police can temporarily close roads to deal with heavy traffic if necessary.

“Drivers should expect delays in the downtown core,” the city said.

Another rally to mark the one year anniversary of the Freedom Convoy will be held on Parliament Hill at 12pm on Sunday, followed by a dance party from 2pm to 6pm

Ottawa Police arrive and most of the people at the rally exit Wellington Street. #ottnews pic.twitter.com/GDFt0cFINI

— Josh Pringle (@PringleJosh)
January 28, 2023

Prime Minister Trudeau speaks about the protests on Parliament Hill

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he understood the protesters’ anger and concern.

“I understand that many Canadians are hurt and they will continue to thrash and be frustrated. You have every right to speak out and protest, of course,” Trudeau said.

“At the same time, I think leaders have choices. What is responsible leadership? I think responsible leadership means acknowledging the concerns and anger people are feeling and trying to resolve them, trying to offer solutions, trying to reassure people, not adding to that anger.”

Downtown parking restrictions

The City of Ottawa introduced special parking restrictions in the Parliamentary District area this weekend to prevent cars from stopping and parking.

The special events no stopping zone extends from Wellington Street through Laurier Avenue and Bronson Avenue to Elgin Street.

Enforcement will continue throughout the weekend, according to Bylaw Services, and vehicles will be ticketed and towed for violating the no-stopping zone.

Restricted access to Parliament Hill

Access to Parliament Hill is restricted throughout the weekend in preparation for protests or rallies to mark the anniversary of the “Freedom Convoy”, and tours of the House of Commons and Senate are canceled throughout the weekend.

According to PPS, public access to Parliament Hill will be restricted to the Queen’s Gates and Metcalfe Gate, while Bank Gate, O’Connor Gate, Elgin Gate and Canal Gate will be closed to the public.

“All public tours are cancelled,” the PPS said, noting that all tours of the House of Commons and Senate for Saturday and Sunday are cancelled.

On January 28, 2022, thousands of vehicles and people rolled into downtown Ottawa as part of the protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures. The protest occupied several streets in the Parliamentary District for more than three weeks and forced the closure of several businesses including the Rideau Centre. The Liberal government invoked the emergency law to end the protest.

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