Toronto police reopen most roads following 2nd weekend convoy protest in downtown core
Protest comes day after Ontario declared state of emergency to quell demonstrations
Most roads in Toronto's downtown core have now reopened after more than 1,000 people gathered on the Ontario legislative grounds on Saturday to protest against COVID-19 public health measures.
Ahead of the protest, Toronto police closed several roads downtown and created a perimeter around Queen's Park to stop all vehicle traffic to the legislature.
While the perimeter remains in place, Toronto police said the expanded road closures have ended and the streets are now open as of 7 p.m. ET.
ROAD CLOSURES: (UPDATE)<br>- the expanded road closures have now re-opened<br>- normal traffic to resume in those areas<br>- thank you for your patience<br>^al—@TPSOperations
The protest marks the second weekend in a row that crowds have gathered in the downtown core. Last weekend, the protest spilled over to the intersection of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road, where large trucks blocked traffic for hours.
Around 2 p.m. E.T. on Saturday, the protesters began to move north toward Bloor Street.
Police said Saturday's road closures were in response to social media posts that announced a "possible demonstration involving a large number of vehicles."
The perimeter around Queen's Park goes from Dupont Street in the north, Church Street in the east, Spadina Avenue in the west and Queen Street in the south.
Sections of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway had been closed earlier but Toronto police said they have also reopened.
Several TTC routes were disrupted around Queen's Park and other areas that saw protests. Some buses, such as the 19 Bay bus, were rerouted.
Toronto police said demonstrators were not permitted to transport fuel cans in the downtown area for public safety reasons.
"If anyone does come with fuel containers, we will be working with our partners to seize those and they would be considered forfeited," said Supt. Lauren Pogue at the Toronto Police Service.
On Friday, police said their priorities include keeping emergency routes clear and protecting key infrastructure, including Hospital Row, a stretch of University Avenue south of College Street where there is a string of hospitals.
"We welcome you to protest peacefully and lawfully, but we will not tolerate any impeding of access to our hospitals, any blocking off of roadways and just any sort of level of violence or disruption to either other protesters or people in that area," Pogue said.
Protesters now marching north toward Bloor. <a href="https://t.co/v0aEDlDpDf">pic.twitter.com/v0aEDlDpDf</a>—@KatieNicholson
Some of the signs I’m coming across at the Toronto protest <a href="https://t.co/z7Rww5uHOV">pic.twitter.com/z7Rww5uHOV</a>—@CBCLorenda
Police had also said they would not allow "prolonged protesting" that continues into the evening.
Saturday's protest come a day after Ontario declared a state of emergency in a bid to quell the convoy protests against public health measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.
With files from Sebastian Leck, Samantha Moya and Jessica Ng