Joint command centre to run protest response as Ottawa police chief resigns
Interim police chief announced as Peter Sloly officially resigns
The latest developments for Day 19 of the protest:
- Steve Bell announced as interim police chief.
- Ottawa Police Services board confirmed Chief Peter Sloly's resignation.
- Ottawa city council's special meeting is delayed again.
In the wake of the Ottawa police chief's resignation, three levels of policing have come together to jointly run the response to the protests, now in their third week, in the capital.
Deputy Chief Steve Bell has been appointed the interim police chief and will work alongside the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police as part of the policing command centre co-ordinating response.
"An integrated command centre has now been set up so that the RCMP and the OPP can share and assume command and control over the enforcement operations that will be necessary to bring about public safety on the streets of Ottawa again," Marco Mendicino, the federal minister of public safety said Tuesday.
The command centre has brought resources the Ottawa police requested at the beginning of last week, Bell said. Last Monday, former chief Peter Sloly had called for an additional 1,800 officers to support the local police response.
Protest response has cost the City of Ottawa $14.1 million, which includes the cost of the Ottawa Police Service, and the OPP, as well as city services. It does not include the help from the RCMP, according to the board's chief administrative officer.
That reportedly breaks down to $785,000 per day, but that number is set to rise as police receive the resources they've requested.
Overnight, Ottawa is seeing 150 protesters on the streets with 360 vehicles left in the city, acting deputy chief Trish Ferguson told a meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board on Tuesday.
That number is down from police's estimate of 400 trucks in the city going in to last weekend. When trucks are removed, Bell says new trucks are not being permitted to take their place.
Chair of the board Diane Deans called on the interim chief to ensure the new expertise and officers from the RCMP and OPP expedite the process of encouraging protesters to leave the city.
"I need to see the difference that it makes. Our patience is wearing thin. We need everybody working together," Deans told Bell.
She also officially announced Sloly's resignation as the city's police chief at the meeting.
WATCH | Public safety minister comments on Ottawa police chief's resignation
"It is with a heavy heart I am announcing I have stepped down," Sloly said in a resignation letter posted on Twitter late Tuesday afternoon.
His resignation comes amid allegations of bullying and volatile behaviour, sources tell CBC News, which has reportedly damaged relations with senior leadership, and has compromised the force's ability to cope with the truck occupation.
WATCH | Reaction from federal minister, Sloly's former boss:
Coun. Catherine McKenney, who has been active in calling for more police enforcement in downtown neighbourhoods, said there has been a growing call for a change in police leadership and they weren't surprised by the move.
"People were seeing a paralysis, really, in terms of response to what was happening with the illegal occupation and every day in terms of enforcement and the lack of enforcement of any of our laws or bylaws in the occupied areas," McKenney said.
However, McKenney also acknowledged the difficulty of having a key part of the city's leadership resign "in a time of crisis."
WATCH | City councillor not surprised by resignation of police chief amid protest 'paralysis:'
Some vehicle movement
Some protesters have relocated their trucks out of residential areas in Ottawa to a more central location, but others say they plan to stay put, showing the lack of consensus among organizers of the occupation now in day 19.
The agreement was announced Sunday between Mayor Jim Watson and organizer Tamara Lich, with protesters asked to limit parking trucks to a stretch of Wellington Street between Elgin Street and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.
Ottawa police did not provide an update as to how many vehicles had relocated by Monday evening.
Some streets were clear of trucks Tuesday morning and because of this, OC Transpo routes 10, 11 and 16 could get closer to their original schedules using streets such as Bronson and Gladstone avenues.
The COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the University of Ottawa is open again.
Road closures continue, buses are unable to service the downtown core. If travelling downtown, take O-Train Line 1. For most up to date information, visit <a href="https://t.co/cOrNgy1nXs">https://t.co/cOrNgy1nXs</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/OCTranspoLive?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OCTranspoLive</a> & subscribe to My Alerts: <a href="https://t.co/WnyoX1U1Y6">https://t.co/WnyoX1U1Y6</a> <a href="https://t.co/trgWFPGKx3">pic.twitter.com/trgWFPGKx3</a>—@OC_Transpo
Other streets were still blocked and services and businesses closed, including in residential areas where people have reported harassment and abuse since the occupation of streets around Parliament Hill began Jan. 28.
While many protesters have flocked to Ottawa to voice their opposition to vaccine mandates, others have said their goal is to force the dissolution of the elected federal government, or to create a logistical nightmare that forces the federal government to repeal all mandates.
RIGHT NOW: Slater at Kent. Slater at Metcalfe <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/otttraffic?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#otttraffic</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ottnews?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ottnews</a> <a href="https://t.co/OlTlbgbU01">pic.twitter.com/OlTlbgbU01</a>—@cbcotttraffic
Watson had acknowledged that given the large number of trucks in the downtown core, it could take up to three days to move the ones that are willing.
Some protesters have indicated they don't plan to to relocate, despite the agreement.
WATCH | The protesters not swayed by recent developments:
What's next under the Emergencies Act?
The federal government now has sweeping powers in the City of Ottawa under the Emergencies Act.
The key question remains if and how they'll actually be used on people and vehicles occupying streets near Parliament Hill while other powers have sat seemingly unused.
- Here's what invoking the Emergencies Act means
- ANALYSIS | By invoking the Emergencies Act, Trudeau tries to seize a new crisis
One power under the act, invoked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday, gives the federal government the ability to compel essential service providers to fulfil their contracts.
The City of Ottawa has had trouble convincing the companies it has under contract to tow any vehicles out of the protest zone. At least one company has already been threatened for moving an illegal structure at the request of convoy organizers.
"It's unfortunate, as a private company, we have been put in the middle of this when it's really a [government] issue," Ibrahim Masri, owner of Alliance Towing told CBC. His company didn't move that shed.
He said tow truck companies have been caught between the public who want them to tow illegally parked vehicles and those who are part of the convoy. At the same time, COVID-19 mandates and lockdowns have also put a strain on his business.
"It's put a lot of emotional stress, a lot of financial stress, a lot of uncertainty. It's really left a scar."
City council meeting delayed again
There was supposed to be a special city council meeting on Tuesday afternoon, which had already been delayed once, but a late-morning memo to city councillors moved the meeting to Wednesday.
WATCH | City councillor, military veteran on the use of the Emergencies Act:
Another recent city development is the granting of an injunction to the city on Monday that covers a lot of the same activities as existing bylaws.
An injunction against honking horns downtown has not been followed by all protesters, with little immediate action. Police have said they're taking down information when possible when they see a law being broken so they can act later when it's safer.
WATCH | What police met when they tried to stop a tent from going up:
In an update to the board, Ferguson said police have 172 investigations open, while the force has laid 33 charges, and made 18 arrests, in relation to the ongoing protest. With the help of bylaw, police say officers have handed out 3,000 tickets.
With files from Joseph Tunney