Dozens of blocks of downtown Ottawa are closed to protesters’ vehicles | CBC News

The city and police plan to keep protesting vehicles out of the shaded area on the map. These plans are as of Tuesday and may change. (City of Ottawa)

Police and city officials say no vehicles will be allowed at a weekend rally in north Centretown or south ByWard Market, while assuring everyone else they will be allowed inside.

The “Rolling Thunder” rally has events scheduled downtown from Friday night through Saturday. Ottawa’s interim police chief said Wednesday organizers have said they will leave after a Sunday morning church service in Vanier.

The presence of vehicles and some messages and participants has raised concerns that it could resemble the disruptive weeks-long “Freedom Convoy” protest turned occupation in January and February.

While allowing people their right to peaceful and legal demonstrations, the City of Ottawa says it will establish a “motor vehicle exclusion zone” Friday and Saturday where “motor vehicles are not allowed to be involved in any event (meeting, protest, demonstration)”.

At the same time, it says that other vehicles, including public transport, pedestrians and cyclists, will be allowed to enter.

The limits of the area are, in general:

  • Bronson Avenue to the west, along with Wellington Street beginning at the Portage Bridge.
  • Wellington and Murray streets to the north.
  • Waller Street and King Edward Avenue to the east.
  • South Laurier Avenue to Nicholas Street where the boundary becomes Rideau Street.

town hall closure

The city is not planning any transit changes and said check online for traffic updates. Police highlighted a Saturday afternoon trip that will depart from Nicholas Street to reach the 417 Freeway.

City Hall and its underground parking garage close Thursday at 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. Monday.

CLOCK | Ottawa’s interim police chief on some of the traffic plans:

Acting Ottawa Police Chief Says Motorcycle Rally Won’t Become Another Occupation

Acting Police Chief Steve Bell says officers are ready to enforce “exclusion zones” during this weekend’s motorcycle rally to prevent the event from becoming another long-term occupation. 1:03

Ottawa police say they will get help from other police forces and plan to use physical barriers and “rapid response teams” as part of their strategy to control access.

By comparison, police and the city told everyone to avoid downtown when the convoy began in late January. Then, when it emptied in mid to late February, police set up checkpoints to allow only certain people into the city center.

Police speak with a motorist at a checkpoint on Metcalfe Street heading into downtown Ottawa after a weeks-long protest that turned into an occupation was broken up. (Patrick Doyle/Reuters)

The plan to manage this weekend’s demonstration has been criticized by some councillors, including Earl Catherine Mackenneywhose Somerset district includes Centretown, because protest vehicles will still be able to travel on the same residential streets that were affected by the winter convoy.

On its website, one of Rolling Thunder’s three “partners” has encouraged people to park on some of those streets and walk to a Saturday morning rally at the National War Memorial.

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