Ottawa

Sell vehicles towed during protest to cover city's costs, says Watson

Mayor Jim Watson says any vehicles seized during the police crackdown on the three-week occupation of the downtown should be sold to cover costs incurred by the city.

Emergencies Act gives city that power, mayor says

Police continued to push back protesters in Ottawa on Saturday, towing away trucks and arresting dozens of demonstrators. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ottawa's mayor says any vehicles seized during the police crackdown on the occupation of the downtown should be sold to cover costs incurred by the city.

"We actually have the ability to confiscate those vehicles and sell them," Mayor Jim Watson said Saturday.

"And I want to see them sold. I don't want the return to these people who've been causing such frustration and angst in our community."

The mayor told CBC News that Ottawa has that power due to the Emergencies Act, which was invoked by the federal government last week.

Watson said he's been pleased by the level of professionalism shown by law enforcement since officers began stepping up their efforts Friday to clear the protest. But he also said he worries about demonstrators who have been "taunting police, being completely irresponsible, and don't want to seem to leave." 

Police officers from several forces across the country retook Wellington Street from protesters Saturday, clearing the crowd around the National War Memorial, herding them away from the parliamentary precinct and then down O'Connor Street. 

As of Saturday afternoon, 47 more people had been arrested, bringing the overall total to 170. Dozens of vehicles have also been towed.

On Saturday evening, hundreds of protesters pooled at the corner of Bank and Sparks streets, with a line of officers standing firm.

They were eventually moved south, closer to Queen Street. By 10 p.m., the crowd had significantly thinned out, with fencing installed in the area.

"As night falls, it is unsafe to stay," Ottawa police tweeted on Saturday. "Get out of the cold and cease further unlawful activity." 

East of downtown, protesters could be seen taking down part of the supply camp they'd set up in a Coventry Road parking lot next to the city-run baseball stadium.

By evening, much of the camp was gone, although some protesters told CBC they planned to regroup elsewhere.

Suffering 'absolutely unacceptable' 

Meanwhile, police said emergency phone lines had been flooded by calls with complaints about the operations underway downtown. 

Zexi Li, an Ottawa resident who helped launch a class-action lawsuit against the convoy organizers, said the weekend's action has been sorely needed as many residents have been distressed for weeks.

"While I think the response is long overdue, it's definitely a relief either way," she said. 

The suffering that Ottawa residents have endured has been "absolutely unacceptable," Li said, adding it was downplayed by law enforcement and various levels of government for far too long. 

WATCH | Ottawa residents were 'suffering' under convoy occupation, resident says

Ottawa resident says locals were 'suffering' under convoy occupation

4 months ago
Duration 12:30
Zexi Li, an Ottawa resident who helped launch a class-action lawsuit against the convoy organizers, says police action is long overdue as many residents have been in distress due to the protesters for days and weeks.

Watson also said Saturday that independent reviews, already planned on both the federal and municipal levels, are needed to see how the protest spiralled out of control and how to stop similar occupations from happening again. 

"You can't come to Ottawa anymore and shut down our city for four weeks," he said.

With files from CBC News Network

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