Protest won't change parking rules for Ottawa residents, bylaw says

Ottawa bylaw officers continue to conduct "regular business" throughout the city, but will only issue tickets under specific circumstances for the "hot zone" of the protest area.

Officers 'pick and choose' when tickets are issued within the 'hot zone'

In normal times, these trucks would be illegally parked in a bus lane and parked for a longer duration than the stated time limit. During the protest, these vehicles have not been ticketed to avoid confrontation. (Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)

As police enforce some traffic rules for protesters, bylaw officers have been told to avoid the "hot zone" except for certain circumstances — but to continue to conduct "regular business" throughout the city.

The protest has seen vehicles parked and honking on roads leading to Parliament Hill for the past week with widespread reports of threats and harassment in the area.

City officials, including Mayor Jim Watson, have said ticketing and towing protesters could incite them. Ottawa police previously said they've chosen not to step in when they see laws being broken because the threat of violence is too high.

Police officials changed one part of their response Thursday, announcing traffic officers were actively patrolling central Ottawa and had issued 30 traffic tickets one day earlier for infractions such as honking, driving the wrong way and speeding.

Bylaw officers, meanwhile, have been asked to turn a blind eye to the laundry list of infractions by protest vehicles and participants.

During a city briefing Wednesday, the city's general manager of emergency and protective services explained bylaw officers will only issue tickets when vehicles are blocking the flow of traffic, fire hydrants and emergency exits within the protest area.

"But we pick and choose when we do that," said Kim Ayotte.

    "We're not going to put our bylaw officers at risk by having them go into the hot zone and issue tickets to a crowd that could become violent." 

    Since Friday, the bylaw department has issued 115 tickets to vehicles within the protest area, 626 parking infractions for vehicles parked illegally within the Centretown area, and a total of 2,164 citywide where "it's regular business for the citizens of Ottawa," Ayotte said.

    Unfair double-standard, say residents

    Residents like Emily Minor decry this policy as an unfair double-standard. She received a $130 ticket while parked in front of her downtown home for less than five minutes.

    "I was like, 'Are you serious right now? What about all of these trucks here? None of them have tickets on their dashes. The parking spots have been taken up. Why has nobody been ticketed?'" Minor said.

    A $130 parking ticket, which could be $110 if paid early, issued to downtown resident Emily Minor on Tuesday. (Submitted by Emily Minor)

    Glebe resident Sarah Murphy received two separate parking tickets this week totalling more than $200 in fines. She was parked during snow-clearing hours.

    At this point, she is still considering whether or not she will pay them.

    "I deserved the tickets but it is frustrating to know that the city specifically is saying that they're not ticketing protesters because of the fear that they'd get aggressive," Murphy said.

    The city's head of bylaw says the department understands the frustration for residents who live and work in the downtown core, but that can't change how bylaw officers go about their day.

    "There is unfortunately no means to differentiate vehicles associated with the protest and those that are not," Roger Chapman wrote in an emailed statement.

    He said officers "use their discretion" when issuing tickets and are working with police to keep officers safe during any enforcement.

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