The City of Ottawa says it will enforce its bylaws this weekend as a motorcycle rally, calling itself "Rolling Thunder Ottawa," plans a series of protest events in the capital.
In a news release issued Tuesday, the city said it's working to ensure participants of the Rolling Thunder event get to exercise their democratic right to demonstrate, while also making sure the community is respected.
"The City of Ottawa is responsible for ensuring residents feel safe in their community. The city values a diversity of minds, perspectives and lived experiences and denounces any displays of hate and racism," the release said.
Unlike the Freedom Convoy in January and February, this rally isn't promoting a petition for changing COVID-19 rules, but rather aligning itself with groups that have varied motives.
The event's website lists three partners: a veteran's group wanting to restore and protect fundamental rights; a group that says it wants the end of all tyrannical laws; and a pro-convoy streamer whose videos go back to the last days of the Ottawa occupation and who has since frequented the freedom rally circuit.
The group has events planned starting at 6 p.m. on Friday and continuing through Saturday.
With the truck convoy still very recent in some residents' memories, the city notes events like this can affect people differently and encourages anyone feeling stressed or overwhelmed to speak to someone and directs them to Ottawa Public Health's resources for stressful events.
Traffic delays expected, city says
Bylaw officers will be on the streets ensuring residents and visitors follow parking regulations. Any vehicles found in no-stopping zones will be ticketed and towed, the release said.
Ottawa police have already announced vehicles involved in the demonstration will not be allowed in an exclusionary zone around Parliament Hill and the ByWard Market — though the city notes normal residential and business traffic — both vehicle and pedestrian — will be permitted.
Coun. Catherine McKenney, whose ward covers Centretown — a neighbourhood deeply affected by the truck convoy — was disappointed the area remains open to protest vehicles this weekend.
In a tweet, McKenney said they will be raising the issue at city council on Wednesday.
The city lists several other bylaws in its release that it plans to enforce over the weekend including:
No unnecessary motor-vehicle or other noise, including speakers.
No public urination and defecation.
No open air fires.
The city will close city hall and its attached parking garage to the public starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday and it will stay closed until Monday at 7 a.m.
It says the rally may cause traffic delays this weekend, but at this point does not expect disruptions to OC Transpo's service.