City of Ottawa asks court to block pickets at world hockey juniors

The City of Ottawa is going to court to try to stop striking transit workers from picketing one of the venues for the world junior hockey championship when the tournament starts on Friday.

The City of Ottawa is going to court to try to stop striking transit workers from picketing one of the venues for the world junior hockey championship when the tournament starts on Friday.

The city's lawyers will be seeking an injunction to block picketing by the Amalgamated Transit Union, and have a court hearing on the matter scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, said a memo from city solicitor Rick O'Connor to city council Tuesday.

A city spokesman confirmed that the court order would include the Ottawa Civic Centre Arena, where Russia and Latvia are set to face off in the first game of the tournament at 2:30 p.m. on Boxing Day.

The arena, located at Lansdowne Park in central Ottawa, is owned by the city and is one of two venues for the tournament, scheduled to run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. The other is Scotiabank Place in Kanata.

The memo said the city is returning to court "in response to the announcement earlier this afternoon by ATU president Andre Cornellier."

Cornellier told CBC News on earlier on Tuesday that all 2,300 members of ATU Local 279 have been told to report to picket lines outside the Ottawa Civic Centre Arena starting around noon on Boxing Day.

The union, which represents drivers, dispatchers and maintenance staff with the city-owned and -run public transit company OC Transpo, has been on strike since Dec. 10. The main issue of disagreement between the two parties is the city's new scheduling proposal, which takes some choice away from drivers. Negotiations with the city resumed Saturday and were continuing through Tuesday.

25,000 visitors expected: championship organizers

Cyril Leeder, vice-chair of the host organizing committee, said he only learned about the planned pickets when told about them by CBC News on Tuesday.

"I'm not sure why they would be picking on the world juniors. We're not really the other party in this fight," he said. But he acknowledged that it is within the union's right to picket peacefully on public property.

"Hopefully, it won't leave a bad view of our city," Leeder said, adding that the tournament will bring 25,000 visitors to Ottawa.

He advised hockey fans to carpool, to arrive at the right time and to be patient. He advised them not to arrive too early, or they will overlap with crowds from the previous game.

Leeder said organizers always planned to bring in teams and the media using buses, with or without the strike.

He added that he is hopeful that the transit union will reach an agreement with the city before the start of the tournament.

"But if … not, we're quite prepared to go forward without an agreement."

According to Ottawa police, pickets are allowed to delay cars, but are not allowed to stop people walking to the venue.

The city had sought an injunction to block picketing by the union on Dec. 11, citing concerns about traffic safety outside the provincial courthouse, said a memo from O'Connor to city council issued that day.

The courthouse is located next to City Hall, where picket lines were set up. The matter had been adjourned by the judge after the union agreed not to picket at City Hall on on Dec. 12. However, the city was told it could bring the matter back to court at any time for a "more final resolution."