Ottawa police are promising a large police presence will be deployed today, as the Rolling Thunder biker rally rolls into the capital.
The “Rolling Thunder Ottawa” website doesn’t provide many details about the rally this weekend, but events are scheduled for today, Saturday and Sunday at the National War Memorial, on Parliament Hill and at a church in Vanier.
The first event of the weekend is a Freedom Fighters Canada rally and march at 6 p.m. on Parliament Hill.
As the bikers and supporters arrive in Ottawa for the event, a motor vehicle exclusion zone is now in effect in the downtown and ByWard Market areas.
“No motor vehicles involved in any event are permitted inside this zone,” police said. “However, the roads are not closed. Residential and business traffic, as well as pedestrians, cyclists and public transit are permitted.”
Interim Chief Steve Bell told reporters on Thursday there will be vehicles and physical barriers set up at some locations around the exclusion zone.
“City barricades, heavy equipment or police officers and police vehicles will be at various patrolled access points surrounding the vehicle exclusion zone to filter lawful traffic onto and in and around those streets,” Bell said.
“This weekend, residents will see a large and sustained police and enforcement presence, including bylaw and parking enforcement.”
Officers from Ottawa police, Ontario Provincial Police, the RCMP and municipal police forces will be deployed across the downtown area for the protest.
There will be no on-street parking or stopping anywhere inside the exclusion zone, which covers Waller Street, Wellington/Rideau street, Bay Street and Laurier Avenue.
Parking within the zone is available in parking lots and garages. On-street parking will be permitted this weekend in the ByWard Market.
Mayor Jim Watson says the city is ready for this event.
“I’m much more confident with the preparation for this particular convoy made up of about roughly 500 motorcyclists,” Watson told CTV’s Power Play. “We have exclusion zones where these people cannot drive their bikes through residential neighbourhoods and we also have a greater police presence.”
Two kilometres away from the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill, Community Solidarity Ottawa is hosting an “Unwelcome Party” this evening.
“We cannot let this go unchallenged,” organizer Brian Latour said.
CSO says they wanted to do something to send a message to the Rolling Thunder biker rally that they are not welcome in Ottawa. The event also aims to publicly demonstrate how much of a disruption the convoys have had on Centretown residents.
The “Unwelcome Party” begins at 5 p.m. at Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill.
NO STOPPING ZONES
Ottawa Bylaw says enforcement will begin at 7 a.m. for vehicles violating the Special Event No Stopping Zones in the exclusion zone.
The exclusion zone for no stopping and no parking is Waller Street, Wellington/Rideau street, Bay Street and Laurier Avenue.
OTTAWA CITY HALL
Ottawa City Hall and the underground parking lot are now closed for the weekend.
The city says City Hall and the parking lot are off-limits to the public until Monday.