Talks about future of Wellington Street ‘accelerated’, City of Ottawa Transportation chair says

The chair of Ottawa’s transportation committee says talks with the federal government about the future of Wellington Street are proceeding quickly.

Coun. Tim Tierney told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s CFRA Live with Andrew Pinsent on Saturday morning that the reopening of the street to vehicle traffic Friday was “a victory all around” for the city.

“I’ve received a tremendous amount of very positive feedback—if you don’t look at Twitter because Twitter is not the real world—but, in reality, people are happy because now they don’t have to drive through Gatineau to get to the other side of Ottawa,” he said, apparently referencing some GPS route planners suggesting detour via Laurier Street in Gatineau.

The federal government had offered to buy Wellington Street from the city, pedestrianize it, and expand the parliamentary precinct. Federal officials said that reopening it to vehicles posed a security risk.

A spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek said the government was disappointed the road was reopening to cars, but it respected city council’s decision to let drivers back on the stretch of road between Bank and Elgin streets.

The city of Ottawa is studying the implications of transferring Wellington Street to the federal government. Tierney says having federal workers back in their offices part-time during the week has accelerated talks about the street’s future.

“If it would have been not going back to work, it would have dragged on for years. I can tell you now it’s much more accelerated,” he said. “Obviously, we would never give away the farm; we’re always concerned about the taxpayer… We’ll have to wait and see. It’s a bit of a poker game, but it’s a well-accelerated poker game.”


Within minutes of Wellington Street reopening Friday afternoon, a small group of “Freedom Convoy” supporter held their own ribbon cutting ceremony and drove up and down the street.

Tierney said he wasn’t worried about a return of the massive protest that shut down the street in the first place in 2022.

“Light-duty vehicles that are horsing around up there, whatever. No one pays attention to these characters anymore,” he said.

Convoy supporters have returned to Parliament Hill a few times in 2023, particularly on anniversaries of the original protest in downtown Ottawa. Wellington Street had remained closed at that time, but Ottawa police and Ottawa Bylaw established no-stopping zones on several downtown streets and issued tickets to anyone parking during planned protests.

Tierney said it showed that keeping protesters from blocking the street for weeks again is up to police.

“It is the police’s job, as it should have been in the first place,” he said. “I think, frankly, we have a good new chief in Chief (Eric) Stubbs. You can see there’s no more playing around now.”

As the future of the street is being decided, Tierney says his focus is turning to the broader traffic plan for Ottawa.

“Now, we’re focused on getting our city back to normal, making sure we have good transportation plans, especially with the federal government back to work… and we want to make sure we can get the traffic continually moving through our city,” he said. 

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