OPS and City of Ottawa appear ready for ‘Rolling Thunder’

ABOVE: The exclusion zone indicates areas of the city center closed to motor vehicles participating in the event. (MAP COURTESY OF THE CITY OF OTTAWA)

The City of Ottawa has released a map showing the “vehicle exclusion zone” for the “Rolling Thunder” convoy expected this weekend.

While a handy tool to show cyclists which routes they will and won’t have access to, the map hasn’t allayed the fears of the local community or members of Ottawa City Council. that represent the affected areas.

The area to be closed is south of Parliament and north of Laurier Street, including the National War Memorial. The ByWard Market will also be closed to protesters. Local activists fear road closures will force protesters to park in the city centre.

Ward 14 Councilor Catherine McKenney is concerned about the noise. At today’s council meeting, they suggested keeping bikes out of town and checking mufflers to ensure compliance with city laws regarding noise pollution. McKenney also said the policing measures proposed by Acting Chief Steve Bell make an occupation “much less likely,” but they are still concerned about potential disruption.

McKenney noted that the downtown community is still traumatized by the February 2022 Occupy events and expressed concern about supporters of extremist elements from the Ottawa area who came to the city on weekends. ends during the occupation of the convoy, making the situation more unstable.

Acting Chief Bell spent the morning reassuring council that appropriate steps were being taken to ensure a peaceful protest that was less disruptive than the “freedom convoy” and that there would be a heavy police presence. When Councilor Rawlson King asked about the possibility of protesters using the St-Laurent Mall as a meeting point, Bell pointed out that it is private property and that the OPS will help remove it if necessary.

The National War Memorial is the focus of ‘Rolling Thunder’ protesters who want to ‘take back’ the site, as organizer Neal Sheard said. Sheard is a member of Freedom Fighters Canada, an anti-warrant organization that opposed Covid lockdown restrictions.

Sheard’s stated goal is puzzling, given that anyone can safely visit the memorial to pay their respects. Councilor Riley Brockinton raised concerns about the preservation of the sanctity of the war memorial and asked Acting Chief Bell how the OPS plans to maintain order at the site, given that it falls under the responsibility of the OPS.

The Ottawa Citizen reported that the “Rolling Thunder” organizer participated in the “Freedom Convoy” protests last February.

Strangely, the only person scheduled to speak at the protest is anti-Covid mandate warrior and notorious troublemaker Chris Sky who posted videos of himself belligerently refusing to wear a mask at airports.

Additionally, Sky made the ridiculous claim that the people of Ukraine support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Although Sheard emphatically stated on Evan Solomons’ 580 CFRA show that Chris Sky had nothing to do with the protest, he is still on the official protest schedule, and as the leader of the protest, Sky would have put it there.

While the city is still recovering from the “Freedom” occupation, many councilors and residents are frustrated to say the least, even anxious, about the events scheduled for this weekend.

While “Rolling Thunder” is veteran-hosted and may result in a bunch of noisy motorcycles and the laying of a wreath at the National War Memorial, the claim seems dubious at best. Especially given the organizers’ association with past anti-warrant protests.

Ottawans will remain optimistic that “Rolling Thunder” is just a group of well-meaning veterans. Otherwise, hopefully, practice makes perfect, and the council, with acting chief Bell, will be ready if things go wrong.

No matter what, support local businesses while enjoying the weekend. PoutineFest kicks off tomorrow at City Hall’s Marion Dewar Square. The CN Cycle for CHEO hits the road Saturday, and the Springtastic Craft Market takes place Saturday at the Glebe Community Center.

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