The City of Ottawa has come to an agreement with one of the leaders of the weeks-long demonstration that could see hundreds of trucks and other vehicles roll out of the residential areas in the downtown core over the next 24 hours.
Some of the vehicles won’t leave town, but may be moved to the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, where many trucks have already been parked since day one.
In a letter sent Saturday to Tamara Lich, one of the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers, Mayor Jim Watson outlined his concerns around the continuing downtown occupation.
“My overarching concern is for the safety and security of our residents, business owners and workers in the downtown core, who are innocent collateral damage of this unprecedented national and international demonstration,” he wrote.
“Our residents are exhausted and on edge, and our small businesses impacted by your blockades are teetering on the brink of permanent closure.”
Demonstrators were still going strong on Saturday night, more than two weeks into the protest. (Jean-Francois Poudrier/Radio-Canada)
Relocation may take 72 hours
Hundreds of heavy trucks have been parked on city streets for more than two weeks, ever since a truck convoy rolled into the nation’s capital to protest various COVID-19 public health mandates.
Watson asked organizers to remove trucks from various residential areas by noon Monday. They include the residential streets south of Wellington Street and Parliament Hill, the ByWard Market and the parking lot of a baseball stadium on Coventry Road, where a large contingent of protesters created an encampment early on.
Protesters have now been asked to limit the trucks to Wellington Street between Elgin Street and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.
Given the fact there are roughly 400 trucks in the downtown core, Watson acknowledged it may take up to 72 hours to move them.
He also asked organizers to stop requesting other demonstrators join the protest in order to ensure the trucks are relocated.
In a letter to Mayor Jim Watson Saturday, protest organizer Tamara Lich said she agreed to the terms and that it was never the convoy’s intention to disturb residents and local businesses. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Organizer trying to get ‘buy-in’ from truckers
It’s unclear who exactly was involved in brokering this deal.
In the past, Ottawa police have said they were in contact with several of the convoy leaders, even before the protesters arrived in the city more than two weeks ago. Police have also conceded that the protest representatives they’ve been speaking with do not represent all the demonstrators.
In a letter to Watson the same day, Lich said it was never the convoy’s intent to disturb residents and businesses and that — with the help of authorities — the trucks should start moving Monday.
“The Freedom Convoy Board agree with your request to reduce pressure on the residents and businesses in the City of Ottawa. We have made a plan to consolidate our protest efforts around Parliament Hill,” she wrote.
“We will be working hard over the next 24 hours to get buy-in from the truckers.”
Watson said he would also be willing to meet with Lich once the trucks are moved.