On April 13, 2022, I tabled the following Inquiry at the City Council meeting.
On Saturday March 26th, 2022, a convoy of approximately 300 vehicles passed through downtown Ottawa from the Quebec border, travelling to Vankleek Hill. This group is highly sympathetic to the people who illegally occupied downtown residential neighbourhoods for 23 days from January 29 to February 20, 2022, resulting in ongoing harassment, intimidation, threats, and assaults on our residents.
The cost to the City of this illegal occupation is estimated to be at least $36.3M. The cost to our local businesses is estimated to be between $44-$200 million. The cost to mostly low-wage workers who lost 3-4 weeks of wages in extensive, many of whom may not fully recover. The mental health costs to our downtown neighbours cannot be adequately described.
The municipal, provincial and federal governments each were required to declare this occupation as an emergency, invoking for the first time in Canadian history the Emergencies Act.
Residents question why the City would allow another 'convoy' which is sympathetic to and likely connected to the illegal occupation, to access a route through our downtown streets, blocking access to homes and businesses for hours on a Saturday afternoon as we attempt to recover from a 2-year pandemic and a 23-day illegal occupation.
Could staff pleas provide a formal legal opinion to the following:
- What legal authority and/or responsibility does a municipality have to keep its residents safe from such a convoy that espouses racist, white supremacy, anti-Semitic, xenophobic views?
- Does this authority grant the municipality the legal right to block passage into the city, at a provincial border or other point where such a convoy of vehicles is approaching?
- How can we ensure that a convoy similar to what snaked its way through the downtown in a show of intimidation and ridicule to our residents not occur again? (Keeping in mind that the movement from where this convoy began to its destination did not need to include the route it chose).
- Would an injunction against a certain number of vehicles meant to perform as a 'convoy' be effective in ensuring this does not occur again in our city?
- What other measures are available to the municipality to ensure that we do not continue to incur the costs of providing passage for vehicular convoys?