Police increase presence in downtown Ottawa as occupation nears 4th weekend
The latest on Day 21 of the protest:
- Ottawa’s bylaw department warns pet owners at the protest.
- The University of Ottawa has suspended in-person classes.
- City council votes to overhaul its police oversight board and will choose a new chair today.
Two formal warnings went out to protesters in Ottawa on Wednesday as the city’s interim police chief said a safe end to the occupation is a matter of when, not if.
Now the city waits.
The warnings — posted online and handed out as flyers — gave protesters an updated list of rules that may apply to the occupation of some downtown streets and potential penalties under expanded federal and provincial powers.
On Thursday, the city’s bylaw department explained what would happen with animals if “enforcement actions” separate people from their pets.
Attention animal owners at demonstration<br><br>If you are unable to care for your animal as a result of enforcement actions, your animal will placed into protective care for 8 days, at your cost. After 8 days, if arrangements are not made, your animal will be considered relinquished. <a href=”https://t.co/OkbXc8RE3c”>pic.twitter.com/OkbXc8RE3c</a>
Speaking to city council on Wednesday, interim police Chief Steve Bell said police now have the resources and a plan to safely end the protest.
He would not share a timeline for that plan for operational reasons, but said police are prepared for several levels of “lawful” escalation, including “techniques [that] are not what we’re used to seeing Ottawa.”
On Thursday morning, fences were being set up in front of government buildings including Parliament Hill and the Senate.
WATCH | How police may try to end the occupation:
After the first of the two warnings, which directly told protesters that what they were doing no longer fell under a peaceful protest, spokespeople for the organizers said they needed more people to come to the core so police would be outnumbered.
Wednesday also brought comments from federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino that several of the individuals involved in the blockade at the border crossing in Coutts, Alta., have “strong ties to a far-right extreme organization with leaders who are in Ottawa.”
The demonstration in downtown Ottawa looks the same as yesterday. Hundreds of trucks still blocking traffic. No sign yet of police moving in (that I could see) <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cdnpoli</a> <a href=”https://t.co/9a3nq7EB6e”>pic.twitter.com/9a3nq7EB6e</a>
More leadership changes
Following Tuesday’s resignation of police chief Peter Sloly, there were more leadership changes when Ottawa city council voted to overhaul its police services board Wednesday during a long and unusually emotional meeting.
It included the ouster of chair Coun. Diane Deans and the resignation of some board members in protest.
The police services board is set to meet Thursday to elect a new chair.
WATCH | A timeline of key events in Ottawa’s convoy crisis:
Meanwhile, the University of Ottawa has moved in-person classes online until Monday and is again increasing security on campus because of “ongoing developments near Parliament Hill,” it said on its website early Wednesday evening.
Northern parts of the campus border some of the roads closed by the protest and the city maintains that people should avoid non-essential travel downtown.