The City of Ottawa expects the occupation to cost $30 million, but with an ongoing police operation, the bills keep pouring in

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The final cost of occupying the “Freedom Convoy” could be as high as $30 million and Ottawa’s municipal government will look to higher levels to foot the bills, City Manager Steve Kanellakos said Wednesday.

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Kanellakos gave an update on the city’s response to the occupation at a city council meeting as politicians considered new measures to help businesses and reduce the municipality’s influence in the parliamentary district following of the crisis in the nation’s capital.

Police were still monitoring for possible resurgences, and while Kanellakos said there did not appear to be any new convoy protests targeting the city center this week, the Integrated Police Command is keeping its stance to a minimum throughout. of the coming weekend.

Later that day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government was lifting its reliance on the Emergencies Act because there are other laws available “in normal times” to protect people and infrastructure.

The province of Ontario also ended its state of emergency on Wednesday, but the City of Ottawa’s state of emergency, which primarily allows the municipality to quickly purchase goods and services without following regular supply protocols, remained in effect.

The Ottawa Police Service, which is the lead agency, is expected to provide an update on its operations Thursday at a meeting of the police services board.

At a news conference after Wednesday’s council meeting, Kanellakos described the $30 million cost estimate as a “provisional estimate” as bills will continue to pour in as the police operation continues. will continue. “The costs keep rolling in,” Kanellakos said.

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The occupation began on January 28 and lasted through the recent Family Day long weekend as police moved in and cleared the town center in a massive enforcement operation of the law involving officers from across Canada.

Mayor Jim Watson thanked the police for calling the council meeting.

“Thanks to their work, we got our streets back,” Watson said. “The worst, I believe, is behind us.”

During the meeting, council made several decisions to use property tax dollars to restore economic activity to the downtown area and the ByWard Market. The Council unanimously approved most of the proposals.

  • Jan Harder and Rawlson King have won support for finance staff to consider deferring interim tax payments for affected businesses.
  • Eli El-Chantiry and Mathieu Fleury received council approval to provide $450,000 grants to the downtown BIAs.
  • Jeff Leiper and Matthew Luloff received support to donate $50,000 to the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition.
  • Allan Hubley and Catherine McKenney received support to extend free fares on the LRT line between Friday and 30 days after the end of the city’s state of emergency. The loss of revenue was estimated at around $1 million. Several bus lines serving downtown and Para Transpo services are currently free.

The most controversial motion came from councilors Tim Tierney and Glen Gower, who initially proposed having free parking on downtown streets and in municipal parking lots between Friday and March 31. After councilors raised objection, the motion was amended to only provide free parking at municipal lots and garages. It passed 16 to 7. The estimated cost of lost revenue is $380,000.

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Since there was little love on February 14 on the streets of busy Ottawa, council unanimously supported a motion by Fleury to do a makeover for Valentine’s Day.

Thus, the council unanimously declared March 14 as Valentine’s Day in Ottawa.

Council also indicated it wanted to get rid of Wellington Street from its transportation asset inventory, backing a motion by McKenney for city staff to discuss with the federal government taking over the city-owned street. .

The occupation has exposed the jurisdictional quagmire of the city that owns Wellington Street and the responsibilities that come with it, even when big events like protests are tied to Parliament Hill, which is under law enforcement. federal.

McKenney also received overwhelming support for city staff to consider closing Wellington Street to traffic between Bank and Elgin streets until the end of the year. Banning traffic on O’Connor and Metcalfe streets north of Queen Street was also part of the motion passed by council.

Council members and city management focused on jurisdictional responsibilities in the nation’s capital, especially in times of crisis. Kanellakos said “now is the time to look at ourselves differently” compared to other municipalities in Canada, given the delicate nature of being the capital. The Council could discuss the issue at its next meeting scheduled for March 9.

Council is keen to review the city’s response to the occupation. A mandatory ‘after action’ review is already built into the city’s procedures related to a local state of emergency, but some councilors wanted a closer look at what led to the truck occupancy downtown and in the Municipal Baseball Stadium car park on Coventry Road.

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Fleury said there should be an “integrated public inquiry” by all three levels of government, while the con. Diane Deans said the city should seek a judicial inquiry.

The Council has already approved the commissioning of a third-party review.

There will be a federal government investigation under the Emergencies Act invocation.

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