Driver charged after man hit by vehicle on Rideau Carleton Raceway picket line

Police have arrested and charged a 26-year-old Ottawa man after a driver plowed through a picket line at the Rideau Carleton Raceway Saturday and struck another man.

Coun. George Darouze calls for more police presence to help keep people safe

Locked-out Rideau Carleton Raceway worker Guy Poirier said there's a "heightened awareness" on the picket line after his co-worker was hit by a vehicle on Saturday. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Police have charged a 26-year-old Ottawa man after a driver plowed through a picket line at the Rideau Carleton Raceway Saturday and struck another man.

The 54-year-old picket was thrown through the air from the impact of the accelerating vehicle and taken to hospital with a serious but not life-threatening head injury around 4 p.m. Saturday, paramedics said.

On Sunday, police announced that charges had been laid against a man in connection with a "driving-related incident" on Albion Road.

The man faces four charges:

  • dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm;
  • assault causing bodily harm;
  • assault with a weapon; and,
  • obstructing or resisting arrest.

He was expected to appear in Ottawa court on Sunday, police said.

More than 100 raceway employees have been locked out since December because of stalled contract negotiations with their employer, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Some workers told CBC News on the weekend that Saturday's crash has created a "heightened sense of awareness" on the picket line.

Union head Doug Marshall said the driver crossed the picket line — going in through the exit lane — with three people in his path, but two managed to jump out of the way.

Brenda McCullough saw her co-worker lying on the pavement with a large gash on his head Saturday afternoon.

She was picketing at another entrance to the raceway when he was hit but said those who witnessed the incident were "clearly shaken."

McCullough said that cars have tried to "ram" people on the picket line before as the labour dispute stretches into its fifth month.

"We're more careful. We're more leery," she said. "People are afraid. They're worried."

The suspected driver was stopped by police and charged with resisting arrest, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.

'We need more police presence'

Coun. George Darouze, who represents the Osgoode ward where the raceway is located, called for more police presence on Sunday after previously raising concerns about the safety of both those on the picket line and motorists along Albion Road, which has blind spots.  

He called on both sides to return to the bargaining table — and not leave until a resolution is reached.

"I don't want to see the picketers out on the road. I want to see them inside working," he said. 

"This issue has been going for a long time now and it's not getting any better. We need to have a little bit more control on it, we need more police presence." 

Latest deal rejected days ago

Workers rejected a five-year deal last week that included a two-year wage freeze and an elimination of pensions, Marshall said.

"They're very determined to be out here until they get a fair contract but obviously an incident like this is really, very difficult for them to deal with," he said.

Locked-out workers continued their picket on Sunday, delaying vehicles trying to get into the raceway's parking lot.

Union representatives said they will be meeting with raceway managers tomorrow to discuss the location of the picket line. It was moved closer to Albion Road when it returned on Friday, which locked-out workers say is more dangerous.

Locked-out worker Guy Poirier wore a body camera on Sunday afternoon — a piece of equipment that has been shared between those on the picket line for the past month, but especially relevant after his co-worker was hit.

"I'd say the general feeling here on the picket line is a heightened sense of awareness," he said. "Sometimes you can't predict what people are going to do."

With files from Chloe Fedio, Andrew Foote, Trevor Pritchard