Ottawa

Ottawa police stop 24/7 monitoring of checkpoints

The Ottawa Police Service announced that it won't monitor Ottawa-Gatineau checkpoints 24/7, just a day after provincial measures began.

Service shifts to rotations just a day after measures began

Ottawa police at checkpoints on the Ottawa-Gatineau border on the first day the provincial measures began on Monday. The service says it will no longer staff officers at all its checkpoints 24/7. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Ottawa police say they will no longer have officers stationed 24/7 at its checkpoints linking the Outaouais and Ottawa.

The news comes just a day after the new provincial measures began Monday, restricting only essential travel into Ontario from neighbouring provinces. It restricts travel to those who live or work in Ontario, are entering the province for health-care reasons, Indigenous Treaty Rights, child care or custody matters, transporting goods, or are travelling through the province to go somewhere else.

The Ottawa Police Service said in a news release that starting 8 p.m. Tuesday, it will start rotating its officers on a daily basis at the five interprovincial bridges and two ferries connecting Gatineau, Que., and Ottawa. This will stop after the province's order expires, say police.

Ottawa police cite local public health, traffic and safety impacts discussed with Ottawa Public Health and local stakeholders as the reason for its operational changes.

"The operational changes announced today are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travellers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time," the news release states.

Police said officers will only stop private passenger vehicles and not commercial ones, which are exempt from the provincial order. Officers will ask for ID and the reason for travel, but drivers aren't required to provide documentation to officers like a note from an employer or a doctor, states the news release.

On Monday morning, long lines of vehicles waiting to cross the Ottawa River from Gatineau stretched for kilometres as police questioned motorists. Quebec has established similar checkpoints.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CBC Monday that he was never consulted about the checkpoints, and believes the province should cover the cost of dozens of police officers needed to staff them each day.

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