The Ottawa interim police chief has shared the full route for Saturday’s ‘Rolling Thunder’ motorcycle ride, one of a series of demonstrations expected in the capital this weekend.
Some 500 motorcycles are expected to enter the city from Friday for a series of events reminiscent of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest in February.
Saturday’s ride leaves the St. Laurent Shopping Center at around 10:45 a.m. and winds through downtown, via Highway 417. The entire route has been designated a no-stop zone, interim chief Steve Bell told reporters on Thursday.
Events related to ‘Rolling Thunder’ are scheduled for Friday through Sunday, and police say the event will not be a repeat of the three-week siege of the downtown area earlier this year.
“There’s a community expectation that we’re going about this differently, that we’re being more responsive and proactive about making sure it doesn’t get elongated,” Bell told CTV News on Thursday. “Let’s do that.”
Residents are being told to expect an increased police presence in the downtown and ByWard Market areas, while an exclusion zone will be established to prevent motor vehicles involved in a rally, protest or demonstration from entering.
The zone extends from Waller Street to Bronson Avenue and Wellington Street to Laurier Avenue, along with the ByWard Market area from MacKenzie Avenue to King Edward Avenue and Rideau Street to Murray Street. It starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
However, roads will not be closed. Police said roads will remain open for residential and business traffic, pedestrians, cyclists and OC Transpo. Police still encourage people to visit downtown businesses.
“City barricades, heavy equipment, police officers and police vehicles will be at various controlled entry points around the vehicular exclusion zones to filter out legal traffic on and around those streets,” Bell said.
RCMP and OPP officers will be deployed in Ottawa along with officers from the municipal police forces.
Bell also warned people arrested during the February protests to follow their court-ordered release terms. For many of them, these conditions require staying outside of downtown Ottawa.
police said: Thursday afternoon they had already arrested one person for violating release terms, including a requirement to avoid downtown Ottawa.
The Ottawa Police Department has shared the entire planned route for Saturday’s ‘Rolling Thunder’ motorcycle ride.
Full ride route revealed
The motorcycle convoy is set for Friday, with a rally and march scheduled for Parliament Hill at 6pm
Most events are scheduled for Saturday, including a “Veterans For Freedom” service at the National War Memorial and a rally and march on Parliament Hill.
Bell said motorcyclists plan to gather at an unspecified area on Coventry Road Saturday morning for a ride around the city. They plan to leave there around 10:45 AM, head north along Vanier Parkway, turn onto Montreal Road, and merge into Rideau Street.
They then head south onto Waller Street and then onto the Mackenzie King Bridge. After crossing the bridge, they head south on Elgin Street and then east on Laurier Avenue West. Finally, they will turn onto Nicholas Street and merge onto Highway 417.
That route puts them within a few blocks of the National War Memorial, a focal point for the protesters where some will already gather on foot. But vehicles are not allowed to park there.
The entire route is designated as a stop ban. Officers will be along the route to direct traffic and ensure that the cyclists “leave the area safely and quickly with the least possible impact on residents,” Bell said.
Bell said police also have a plan in place in case people don’t follow their directions to proceed.
He has not specified the location on Coventry Road where motorcyclists plan to gather.
“We are not coordinating the event in any way. The information we have is that organizers are planning to gather in and around that area,” he said.
But social media posts say the motorcyclists plan to gather at the St. Laurent Shopping Center.
CTV News contacted Morguard, who owns the mall, for comment on the possibility of motorcyclists gathering there.
“Providing a safe and enjoyable shopping experience for our guests is our top priority,” said a spokesperson. “St. Laurent Shopping Center is open to customers this weekend.”
During the protests in February, protesters set up a long encampment near the baseball stadium on Coventry Road. Bell said police would do everything they could to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“We will not tolerate any illegal activity that indicates any form of long-term occupation of any part of our city,” he said. “We will be very responsive and very proactive in identifying and dismantling any kind of conditions like that.”
Mayor ‘much more confident’
Bell said the occupation of the center in February has changed community expectations about how police are handling protests. Ottawa faces hundreds of protests in any given year, but the occupation changed police response, he said.
“What you’re seeing is we’re taking a much more proactive stance in terms of how we manage people in and around that downtown area,” he said.
“We know there has been a breach of trust between our community and the police as a result of the occupation in February,” Bell said, adding that police have focused on developing a plan that takes into account community concerns. .
“We believe this is what we have developed,” he said. “Our hope is that … we start rebuilding that trust with our community because it’s vital to us.”
In areas of downtown not covered by the exclusion zone where protest vehicles are not allowed, there will be no parking and stopping restrictions, as well as an increased police presence to reassure residents, Bell said.
Mayor Jim Watson said on Thursday he is much more confident in the police and city’s planned response to this protest.
“I am much more confident today with the plan and preparatory work undertaken by the police and our various departments to slowly but surely regain the public’s trust that when events like this happen in a good way.” base – and they will – we’re better prepared to deal with it.”