Toronto police officials are holding a news conference about the service’s response plans for this weekend’s convoy protest at 2:30 p.m. ET. CBC News is carrying the news conference live in this story.
In advance of a planned convoy protest in Toronto this weekend, police say they are closing some roads in the downtown core to most traffic to ensure access to hospitals near Queen’s Park.
In a series of tweets, Toronto police said in order to “protect Hospital Row,” University Avenue between College Street and Queen Street, and College Street from University Avenue to Yonge Street, would be closed from 11:30 a.m. Friday onwards to “normal traffic and any convoys.
“Hospital staff, workers, patients, family and people collecting patients will have access,” police said. “These closures could remain in place all weekend. We will continue to assess the situation and make any adjustments where needed. We will continue to update the public.
“Please avoid demo areas, where possible, as it is likely to cause delays.”
Flyers advertising a “convoy for freedom” at Queen’s Park have been circulating on social media this week. In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Toronto police said there will be a “large police presence in and around the downtown core” Saturday.
Protest in Ottawa continues
A pandemic restrictions protest in Ottawa has been going on for a week, with vehicles parked and honking on roads leading to Parliament Hill since last Friday, and widespread reports of threats and harassment in the area.
Ottawa police said Friday they will increase their presence and further restrict access to the city’s downtown to control what’s expected to be another weekend of noisy protests, but they warn the situation remains volatile and dangerous.
Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly also said in a Friday news conference that he and other unnamed city officials have received death threats in the last two days that are under investigation.
In a joint statement issued Friday morning, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) called for calm amid the ongoing protest in Ottawa and in advance of any protest in Toronto.
“We strongly urge those exercising their right to freedom of expression to do so peacefully, and in a manner that is respectful to residents, patients seeking care, health care personnel performing their duties and businesses who are only just now reopening,” OHA head Anthony Dale and and OCC President and CEO Rocco Rossi said.
“There have been many sacrifices already made throughout the pandemic. Let’s not add to the burden and loss of those who have already given so much.”
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Toronto Centre, said on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning Friday that Toronto has the advantage of hindsight, and can learn from how things have unfolded in Ottawa over the last week.
“There are of course a number of measures that are going to be taken to ensure that we can create almost a ‘no-go zone’ I would say, in the downtown,” she said.
“We want to protect public assets, [and] ensure transportation routes remain open, but at the same time we welcome the protesters, they have a right to lawful, peaceful protest — but they don’t have a right to occupy. I think it’s important that we try to strike that balance and maintain public safety and order at all times.”