City brokers deal for trucks to leave Ottawa's residential neighbourhoods

The City of Ottawa has come to an agreement with one of the leaders of the weeks-long demonstration that could see hundreds of trucks and other vehicles roll out of the residential areas in the downtown core over the next 24 hours.

Mayor says he'd meet with protest organizers once trucks moved, but unclear demonstrators on board

The City of Ottawa has come to an agreement with one of the leaders of the weeks-long demonstration that could see hundreds of trucks and other vehicles roll out of the residential areas in the downtown core over the next 24 hours.

Some of the vehicles won't leave town, but may be moved to Wellington Street and Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, where many trucks have already been parked since day one.

In a letter sent Saturday to Tamara Lich, one of the Freedom Convoy 2022 organizers, Mayor Jim Watson outlined his concerns around the continuing downtown occupation.

"My overarching concern is for the safety and security of our residents, business owners and workers in the downtown core, who are innocent collateral damage of this unprecedented national and international demonstration," he wrote.

WATCH | Agreement reached between Ottawa mayor and protest leader: 

Ottawa’s mayor reaches deal to limit protest as residents push back

1 year ago
Duration 5:57
The mayor of Ottawa has reached a deal with a protest organizer to limit demonstrators to near Parliament Hill, but not before frustrated residents pushed back against the protesters and police were met with criticism over their response. Frustrated residents took matters into their own hands in Ottawa, staging counter-protests to prevent some vehicles from reaching the convoy protest on Parliament Hill. The federal government is also calling the apparent inaction by Ottawa police 'inexplicable'.

"Our residents are exhausted and on edge, and our small businesses impacted by your blockades are teetering on the brink of permanent closure."

Watson said he would be willing to meet with Lich once the trucks are moved.

Relocation — if it happens — may take 72 hours

Hundreds of heavy trucks have been parked on city streets for more than two weeks, ever since a truck convoy rolled into the nation's capital to protest various COVID-19 public health mandates.

Watson asked organizers to remove trucks from various residential areas by noon Monday. They include the residential streets south of Wellington Street and Parliament Hill, the ByWard Market and the parking lot of a baseball stadium on Coventry Road, where a large contingent of protesters created an encampment early on.

Trucks and other vehicles are parked on a residential stretch of Kent Street Sunday afternoon. Mayor Jim Watson says it may take up to 72 hours for them to relocate. (Joanne Chianello/CBC)

Protesters have now been asked to limit the trucks to Wellington Street between Elgin Street and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.

Given the fact there are roughly 400 trucks in the downtown core, Watson acknowledged it may take up to 72 hours to move them.

He also asked organizers to stop requesting other demonstrators join the protest in order to ensure the trucks are relocated.

In a letter to Mayor Jim Watson Saturday, protest organizer Tamara Lich said she agreed to the terms and that it was never the convoy's intention to disturb residents and local businesses. Hours after the letter was released, she tweeted there was no deal. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Organizer trying to get 'buy-in' from truckers

It's unclear who exactly was involved in brokering this deal.

In the past, Ottawa police have said they were in contact with several of the convoy leaders, even before the protesters arrived in the city more than two weeks ago. Police have also conceded that the protest representatives they've been speaking with do not represent all the demonstrators.

In her letter to Watson, Lich said it was never the convoy's intent to disturb residents and businesses and that — with the help of authorities — the trucks should start moving Monday.

"The Freedom Convoy Board agree with your request to reduce pressure on the residents and businesses in the City of Ottawa. We have made a plan to consolidate our protest efforts around Parliament Hill," she wrote.

"We will be working hard over the next 24 hours to get buy-in from the truckers."

After Pat King, who is closely associated with the demonstrations, posted a video Sunday evening telling truckers the letter was a fake and not to go anywhere, Lich posted on Twitter that the "media lies" and that there is no deal. Yet, two hours after that, Lich posted again that the plan ot move vehicles out of the downtown would go ahead.

Reaction from downtown councillor, trucker

Tyler Armstrong was sitting in the cab of a truck Sunday when news of the deal broke, but told Radio-Canada he had not heard anything about it. 

"If it's to progress what we're doing and move that forward, then I'm for it," he said. 

"People know we're here to stay, so they know we're not going to leave. One hundred per cent, I will not move. I will not leave until we get what we want, and I think a lot of the public know that."

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, who represents the Centretown neighbourhood now overrun with protesters, said moving the vehicles off residential streets would be a positive. 

"I always say I measure success in whether people can go to the grocery store, people can take the LRT safely, people can live on their streets without diesel fumes, toxic fumes," said McKenney. 

"That is the measure of success, so however that comes about, we have to wait and see. I want to see exactly what happens and how it happens."


With files from Frédéric Pepin