Wellington Street reopens to cars in front of Parliament Hill

Fifteen months after Wellington Street closed in front of Parliament Hill when the ‘Freedom Convoy’ rolled into Ottawa, the road reopened to vehicles on Friday.

After weeks of preparation by the city, including reinstalling traffic lights and adding a bike lane, the street reopened around 4 p.m. Friday.

Many drivers are glad to see the reopening of the busy Ottawa street, with some calling the closure “ridiculous” and “too long.”

“It’s great. I cannot complain about it,” said one motorist. “Saves a lot of time,” said another.

Supporters of the Freedom Convoy held their own ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the reopening of the street.

Ian Wright, owner of Snow Goose Canadian Crafts, says having Wellington open again is good for business. 

“It just brings more people uptown,” says Wright. “People have been nervous to come uptown I think. Parking hasn’t been great, but also just the fact that the traffic has been difficult and sort of kept people away.”

However, the closure had a significant impact on some businesses in the area, including Retro Rides and Bike Cafe, whose owner Jason Komendat said he lost customers due to the closure. 

“From us getting deliveries to clients that have a broken bicycle, they want to drop it off in their car, they can’t,” he said. “I’ve had clients get $90 parking tickets, and I’ve lost them for life.”

Over the past two weeks, city staff have installed new traffic lights and bike lanes along Wellington Street and have also repainted new traffic lines. 

“People need this road network to be able to connect to the other side of the city,” Coun. Tim Tierney said. “They are very happy about it. The days of having to drive through Gatineau to get to the other side of the city will be behind us.”

The federal government, which has offered to buy the street from the city in hopes of closing it to vehicles permanently.

“Although we are disappointed, we respect the City of Ottawa’s decision to reopen Wellington Street to vehicles,” a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek said. “Nonetheless, we will continue to work productively and collaboratively with the City, and other key stakeholders, on a path forward for Wellington Street that creates a safe and welcoming environment for visitors, employees and representatives in Canada’s parliamentary precinct.”

For drivers and some businesses, the reopening of Wellington Street has been a long time coming. 

“Absolutely good news. We’re really pleased, and most of my colleagues on the street are of the same mind,” said Wright.

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