Ambassador Bridge reopens with heavy police presence around former Windsor, Ont., protest site
6-day shutdown of international crossing had $3B economic impact, says mayor
Traffic once again started flowing across the Ambassador Bridge on Monday after a six-day protest shuttered the international crossing between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit.
Shortly after midnight, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced "normal operations" had resumed at one of the busiest border crossings in the country.
Protesters against pandemic restrictions had blocked the main exit and entrance of the bridge for nearly a week. Police cleared the protesters and vehicles were towed away on Sunday.
- Ambassador Bridge reopens | Get the overnight updates right here.
Early Monday morning, U.S. Customs and Border Protection tweeted a photo of the first transport truck able to cross.
"I want to thank the unified coalition of business leaders and organizations representing working men and women on both sides of the border for coming together to get this resolved," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a news release Monday.
"And I appreciate the U.S. and Canadian governments for hearing Michigan's concerns loud and clear and stepping up to reopen the bridge."
A heavy police presence remained in the area along Huron Church Road on Monday — the main corridor for traffic to the bridge — to ensure protesters do not return to block the roadway.
Police say they have made 42 arrests and seized 37 vehicles since the beginning of the protests. The majority of people arrested have been released with a future court date and are facing mischief charges, police told CBC News on Monday.
Those released may also face conditions, said police, which may include not being allowed to attend certain areas within the City of Windsor.
"There may be a cat-and-mouse situation for a little while," Windsor police Chief Pam Mizuno told reporters Sunday.
Mizuno said police are prepared to deal with any further attempts to block the area.
Access to intersections along Huron Church Road is being limited Monday, presumably to ensure protesters cannot enter the area.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said Monday the nearly week-long closure of the Ambassador Bridge cost the economy about $3 billion.
"You have families that work for the Big 3 [automakers], many of them in Windsor, sent home.… So there's an impact and a ripple throughout the entire community. But I'm happy today the bridge is open and police are in control," Dilkens told CBC's Windsor Morning.
"This is a crucial piece of infrastructure that is the Ambassador Bridge and we've got to do all we can to keep that road open until this so-called Freedom Convoy is sorted out."
Police move protesters out Sunday
On Friday, police handed out flyers to protesters, informing them of a provincewide state of emergency declared by Premier Doug Ford due to a number of protests in Ontario. Later that afternoon, an Ontario Superior Court judge granted an injunction barring protesters from blocking traffic to the Ambassador Bridge.
By Friday night, groups of protesters went to the bridge area. Police continued to patrol the area into Sunday morning, when a final push to move demonstrators out began.
Protesters slowly packed up belongings, and moved cars and trucks parked along the road blocking access to the bridge.
Officers from Windsor, London, Ont., provincial police and the RCMP remained at the former protest site Monday.
Windsor's mayor said the city will "seek every penny that we've incurred" from upper levels of government for the costs associated with the policing.
Compensation for business owners and others impacted by the blockade at the bridge is something provincial Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called for while visiting Windsor on Monday.
"[Premier] Doug Ford can actually do that, he can actually help to address the fact that everyday people here in Windsor, Ont., and southern Ontario really paid the price for that blockade," she said during a media briefing.
Horwath suggested that the premier "cut cheques" for autoworkers who have been laid off due to parts shortages caused by the blockade, as well as for people in the agri-food industry and small business.
The Opposition leader criticized Ford for "taking his sweet time" to act on the bridge protest and others across Ontario.
"These kinds of things can't stretch on for days and days on end, they need to be addressed swiftly before people dig in ... Because that didn't happen, we saw a lot of losses here," she said.
Also Monday, Ontario announced it will scrap the province's proof of vaccination system as of March 1, and further restrictions will be eased as soon as the end of the week.
"Today's announcement is not because of what's happening in Ottawa or Windsor but in spite of it," Ford said. "We're moving forward as a province and a country, and this chaos is not going to be tolerated, I promise you that."
Horwath said it appears the premier is "caving" in the face of protesters demanding a loosening of restrictions.
With files from Chris Ensing, Katerina Georgieva and CBC's Windsor Morning