More than a month after the “Freedom Convoy” protest took over Ottawa’s downtown core, the street in front of Parliament Hill remains closed to vehicles.
The future plan for Wellington Street is still unclear as many Ottawa residents wait and wonder.
Mayor Jim Watson says keeping it closed indefinitely is not being ruled out.
“We have to make sure that what happened to the residents of Ottawa and our city with the illegal convoy doesn’t happen again,” Watson said.
“If that requires us closing Wellington Street to add better security for both the people who work on the Hill and for people who visit it, then we should look at that with an open mind.”
Ottawa residents weighed in on Saturday afternoon.
“I can’t imagine it ever reopening after what happened during the occupation and it’s interesting because we were just walking down here and I said let’s come and walk on this land and just take it back,” said Gabrielle Dewalt, who supports Wellington Street remaining closed.
On February 23, a motion was brought forward to city council to put together a report on the cost of keeping the area closed until the end of 2022.
Councillor Catherine McKenney moved that motion, saying, “I would like to see Wellington remain closed until a proper assessment and plan are put in place in 2023. This would be coordinated with the work to turn Wellington Street over to the Parliamentary Precinct.”
Traffic does remain a concern for those who live or drive in the area.
“They should definitely reopen it soon because it’s a very busy area,” said Emma Dube, an Ottawa resident.
Safety concerns are also being considered.
“There is the potential of other security threats,” said Chris Lewis, former OPP Commissioner. “It’s time to re-evaluate all of that and come up with other solutions. It just does not make sense that people can drive right up to Wellington Street, right in that very important area.”
Mayor Watson says until the city has a better idea in the mid-term and long-term of what to do, it’s probably wise to keep it closed at least in the short-term.
Wellington Street is closed to vehicle traffic between Bank Street and Elgin Street.
The report on the cost of keeping Wellington Street closed is due back at the first transportation committee meeting for the new term of council.
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