Police increasing presence in downtown Ottawa ahead of ‘Freedom Convoy’ anniversary

The Ottawa Police Services Board will receive an update on police preparations for a possible ‘Freedom Convoy 2.0’ this afternoon, as the city braces for potential events to mark the one-year anniversary of the protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and public health measures.

Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs is scheduled to address the Ottawa Police Services Board during this afternoon’s meeting, and the board will receive what is called a “Major Event Operational Update: Convoy 2.0” during an in-camera session.

The ‘Freedom Convoy’ rolled into Ottawa on Jan. 28, 2022, to protest the COVID-19 public health guidelines.  Hundreds of vehicles and people blocked streets around the Parliamentary Precinct for more than three weeks.

In the lead up to this weekend’s one-year anniversary of the event, police say residents and businesses will see an increased police presence from time to time in the downtown core.

“We continue to closely monitor the potential for vehicle-based protests happening in or travelling through Ottawa between now and mid-February,” police said in a Twitter thread.

“Although we are not seeing specific information to indicate that there will be large-scale demonstrations or protests in Ottawa, the potential for some level of protests exists. As such, we will have resources, logistics, traffic, towing and staffing plans in place to address any type of scenario and will not allow the conditions to occur that resulted in the February 2022 convoy.”

In November, James Bauder, the co-founder of the Canada Unity group, announced plans for a ‘Freedom Convoy 2.0’ in Ottawa Feb. 17 to 21. However, Bauder announced in late December that the reunion was “out of service.”

In December, Stubbs told CTV News Ottawa the service would be ready for a possible reboot of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest. The new chief said the service had been procuring equipment and intelligence gathering.

Wellington Street remains closed to vehicle traffic in front of Parliament Hill since the end of the ‘Freedom Convoy.’ Ottawa’s transportation committee will discuss short-term plans for the road, including possibly reopening it, on Wednesday.

Police say they “remain committed” to the safety and well-being of residents following the ‘Freedom Convoy’. With several events coming up, including Winterlude in February, police say they will ensure residents remain safe.

“There is much to do and see in Ottawa this winter, including upcoming Winterlude activities,” police said.

“This will include event road closures in the downtown core to facilitate pedestrian safety for people visiting the various Winterlude locations.”

Police preparing for presidential visit 

The Ottawa Police Services Board will receive an in-camera update today on operational plans for an upcoming presidential visit.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced earlier this month he would be making his first official visit to Canada as president in March, but did not say where he would visit.

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