Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency to give the city more flexibility to deal with ongoing protests that have overwhelmed local resources.

In a brief statement, the city says the decision reflects the “serious danger and threat to the safety of residents” from protesters camped out in much of the city center.

The decision gives the city some additional powers around contracting and the way it delivers services. The city statement noted that those powers could help purchase equipment required by frontline workers and first responders.

The statement also says that the decision underscores the need for support from the highest levels of governments.

Earlier Sunday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province stood by Ottawa during the nine-day protest that critics called an occupation.

“While we cannot direct the police, we have provided the City of Ottawa with everything they have asked for and will continue to provide whatever support they request,” Ford said in a tweet.

A surge of 250 RCMP officers bolstered the police presence in the national capital on Sunday. Ottawa police said more than 450 tickets have been issued to protesters since Saturday morning for excessive noise, red light violations, driving a vehicle on a sidewalk and setting off fireworks, among others.

Nearly 100 criminal investigations were underway, including cross-border investigations into what Ottawa police said were “threats to public officials via email.”

Police also said Sunday that anyone trying to bring items such as gasoline or supplies to protesters and the center’s 500 vehicles could be arrested.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 6, 2022.

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