Ottawa police say they are ready to end Canada Day occupation attempts

Ottawa City officials say they are preparing for Canada Day at a briefing Monday morning, with plans to prevent anti-government protests from turning into a new occupation.

The traditional nationally broadcast shows return for the first time since 2019, this time from the plaza in front of the Canadian War Museum due to ongoing construction on Parliament Hill.

Ottawa police say they expect more protests and larger crowds than usual during Canada Day celebrations as groups linked to the Freedom Convoy continue to plan demonstrations.

Interim Police Chief Steve Bell said Monday that they generally expect hundreds of thousands of people in the center. In 2019, an estimated 56,000 people went to the shows on Parliament Hill and that doesn’t mean everyone in the area is partying.

Bell said officers are working against the threat of occupation, such as what happened on downtown streets over the winter, and provincial police and the RCMP have offered assistance to stop the occupation attempts.

Last week, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson asked people who were thinking of coming to the capital “not to be intimidated by those who would come to Ottawa to cause trouble.” He said Monday that he wants this to be a safe, festive event for children and families.

There will be the traditional Canada Day road closures on Friday, July 1, and early Saturday, although there will be more closures near LeBreton Flats due to a change in the show’s location.

But the Ottawa Police Department is establishing a new “vehicle exclusion zone” — similar to what was set up for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally in late April — with no street parking at all and no protest vehicles allowed from 8 a.m. to at least 6 a.m. Wednesday. on Monday, July 4.

The Ottawa Police Department controls access to these areas of downtown, including two river bridges. All vehicles not involved in demonstrations or protests can enter, the city says, but drivers cannot park on the street. (City of Ottawa)

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