Ottawa bylaw enforcement teams now have a series of $1,000 fines at their disposal as they look to apply additional pressure on Freedom Convoy protesters occupying the downtown core since Jan. 29.
The Ontario Court of Justice has set the higher fines for infractions linked to noise bylaws, traditionally capped at $490; idling, that was at $100; the use and care of roads, usually at $350; and open-air fires that were at $100.
The municipality has so far issued 154 tickets in an area identified as the red zone, which now includes more than 400 vehicles. Police, meanwhile, reported on Tuesday that they had issued 1,300 tickets along with those issued through bylaw enforcement since the protests began. An injunction has also been established to prevent protesters from sounding horns in the area.
Ottawa police will also see additional support in the form of 1,800 officers from federal, provincial and municipal services.
But the city says it has had little success when reaching out to towing companies about options to remove the trucks.
“We’re not having a lot of luck with that,” city manager Steve Kanellakos said during a press briefing, noting that most of the operations are saying it would not be good for business. With trucks lined up back-to-back, towing operations would involve heavy wreckers, and such moves would also mean protecting the scene in the face of a potentially hostile crowd, he added.
Kim Ayotte, general manager – emergency and protective services, said the municipality is exploring “pretty similar” options to towing, but did not elaborate.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Ottawa Police also issued a formal notice to protesters that it’s a criminal offence to obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property. “Anyone blocking streets or assisting others in the block of streets may be committing a criminal offence,” the police service said, warning that vehicles could be seized as part of such an offence.
Police are also working with the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa, after noting that almost 25% of the trucks are also housing children and families.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he would only meet with protesters once they leave.
“They’ve got to get rid of all their rigs and clean up the mess they’ve created in our city and give the city back to the residents,” he said, adding that vaccine requirements at the heart of the protests are governed provincially and federally.
Watson also referred to a sense of disorganization among protesters, and how some of their press conferences are like Monty Python sketches, referring to demands for things like meetings with the Governor General.
“I wish this whole nightmare had ended two weeks ago,” he said. “Come in, protest, and leave.”
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