Ottawa prepares for ‘Rolling Thunder Ottawa’ protest and the widening of Hwy. 417: Top five stories this week

Ottawa prepares for a new protest to roll into town and motorists receive a costly lesson on licence plate renewals.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at the top five stories on our website this week

Ottawa police and the city of Ottawa are preparing for another group of protesters to roll through the city of Ottawa.

The “Rolling Thunder Ottawa” protest is expected to bring 500 to 1,000 motorcycles to downtown Ottawa April 29, but few details are known about the planned demonstration.

In a statement to CTV News Thursday, the Ottawa Police Service said; “We continue to prepare for the planned demonstration (Rolling Thunder) on April 29th and 30th.”

The protest will arrive in Ottawa just over two months after police moved in to end the “Freedom Convoy” demonstration that occupied downtown Ottawa for three and a half weeks in late January and early February.

Mayor Jim Watson has a message for anyone planning to take part in the demonstration.

“If people want to come and they want to lay a wreath at the war monument, that’s fine,” Watson told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll.

“They’re not going to be able to break the law like they did in the past, and they’re not going to have any access, obviously, for their motorcycles to Wellington Street. That’s blocked off and will continue to be blocked off.”

Interim chief Steve Bell will provide an update on police preparations for the convoy during the Ottawa Police Services Board meeting on Monday.

“Freedom Convoy” organizer Pat King is facing new charges.

King was charged this week with perjury and obstruction of justice related to testimony he gave at his bail review hearing earlier this month.

King was arrested on Feb. 18 on charges related to his involvement in the three-week protest against COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa.

Meantime, organizer Tamara Lich appeared in court this week to seek new bail conditions.

Lich was released from jail last month after heavy restrictions on her use of social media. 

Lich’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, says the social media restriction is overly broad and an unnecessary condition of her release.

Pat King appearing at a bail hearing at the Ottawa courthouse on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (Courtesy: Greg Banning)Ontario drivers must still renew licence plates or face fines, despite it being free

An Ottawa motorist received an expensive lesson about still renewing her licence plate, despite the Ontario government scrapping licence plate renewal fees and corresponding stickers for passenger vehicles.

Gail Salmon, 82, received a nearly $500 fine from Quebec police in the mail this week because her Ontario licence plates were suspended.  Her neighbour borrowed the car to go to Le Nordik Spa in Chelsea, Que.

When Salmon called the Ontario government for more information, they informed her that she needed to check her own expiry date. 

“It’s a lot of money for something that, if I would have known, but she said we don’t send out notices anymore. You’re just supposed to remember,” said Salmon.

There is no cost to renew the licence plate sticker, but drivers must still do it.

Gail Salmon showing her Quebec ticket that cost her nearly $500 for expired plates. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)

The Ontario government is planning to widen a five-kilometre section of the Queensway to four lanes, but work is not expect to begin until at least 2025.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced plans to widen the stretch of Highway 417 from Maitland Avenue to Highway 416.

“Gridlock continues to back up the highways and major gaps exist in the inner community bus sector, making it harder for people to get to their jobs, medical appointments and to visit their loved ones,” Mulroney said of widening Hwy. 417.

However, two west end councillors suggest Ontario and Ottawa have other priorities besides widening the highway.

“Circumstances have changed,” Coun. Jeff Leiper said. “We have now a light rail system that parallels a lot of this route and is a better option for moving people around the city.”

Leiper says widening the Hwy. 417 lanes could cost “hundreds of millions of dollars.” That’s money that could be better spent on improving transit to the suburbs, he said.

The Ontario government announced plans Thursday to widen a five-kilometre section of Highway 417 to four lanes in each direction.

One of Ottawa’s most prominent real estate executives isn’t ruling out being part of a possible new ownership group for the Ottawa Senators.

Roger Greenberg, executive chairman of Minto Group, told CTV News Ottawa his family would “likely participate” in possible new ownership if the team goes up for sale.

However, Greenberg cautioned that the family of the late Eugene Melnyk would need to decide to sell before anything else happens.

“First things have to come first, and that’s a decision by the family that they’re going to sell the team. Because until that happens, nothing can really happen,” Greenberg said.

“So let’s get that decision first and then we’ll see where things go from there.”

Melnyk died last month at age 62 after a lengthy illness. Melnyk’s two daughters are in their early 20s and it is not known whether they want to sell the franchise.

Minto Group executive chairman Roger Greenberg speaks with CTV News Ottawa on Tuesday, March 19, 2022.

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