Toronto Police start closing off roads in anticipation of trucker convoy troubles
The trucker convoy that's been plaguing residents of Ottawa since last weekend is planning on making its way to Toronto — at least in part, according to organizers — for a "freedom rally" outside the Ontario Legislature on Saturday, Feb. 5.
That's tomorrow, around noon, just so you're aware, though digital posters advertising the "convoy for freedom Toronto" suggest that participants will be meeting up around 10 a.m. at seven different locations around the GTA and "cruising to Queen's Park" from there.
Perhaps noticing how much criticism police in Ottawa have been receiving for failing to stop these "patriots" and their supporters from peeing on war monuments, waving hate symbols and harassing homeless shelter staff (among other obnoxious behaviours), the Toronto Police Service is taking preemptive action to control the expected chaos.
More than a full day out from the expected rally, the cops took action to show that they're not messing around with these anti-vaccine mandate demonstrators by closing off parts of streets to protect vital infrastructure and services.
Chief among these services are those offered at the many hospitals along University Avenue just south of Queen's Park.
Please take note of the road closures that may impact you if you are coming to UHN or other area hospitals over the next few days.— UHN Patient Experience (@UHNPatientExp) February 4, 2022
Please follow @UHN, @TPSOperations and @TTCnotices to stay up to date as new information becomes available. https://t.co/i7nQs8TPgG
"Demonstrations will be taking place in the city this weekend. To protect Hospital Row, from 11:30 a.m. University Ave between College Street and Queen Street will be closed," announced the TPS on Friday morning.
"College Street - from University Avenue to Yonge Street - will also be closed."
Hospital staff, workers, patients, family and people transporting patients will still have access to the restricted area, police have confirmed, but anyone else is being asked to avoid the demonstration zone.
"These closures could remain in place all weekend. We will continue to assess the situation and make any adjustments where needed," wrote police. "We will continue to update the public. Please avoid demo areas, where possible, as it is likely to cause delays."
Dont be like @OttawaPolice, actually arrest these people. Stop letting them harass every person in the downtown core. They attacked the homeless shelters, reporters, and all the people that live downtown. We saw exactly what we're dealing with over the past couple of days.— Shawn 🥷📸 (@DrOnDFS) February 2, 2022
Both police and city officials including Mayor John Tory had already warned potential protesters to stay away from hospital row earlier this week, vowing that law enforcement would be ready to keep the public safe and emergency access routes to hospitals clear.
It is not clear how many protesters will converge on the Queen's Park lawn this weekend or how long they plan to stay for, but supporters of their cause continue to cause problems in Ottawa, where honking vehicles continue to block off traffic leading to Parliament Hill.
Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly revealed during a news conference on Friday that he and other officials have been receiving death threats, warning that the situation in our nation's capital remains "volatile and dangerous."
Tory says Toronto is preparing to do everything it can to avoid the type of situation Ottawa is now in.
"I want to be absolutely clear that I support Toronto police taking necessary action to prepare for this protest with a focus on doing everything they can to protect the safety of Toronto residents and businesses and to minimize any disruptions to Toronto residents and businesses as much as possible," said the mayor in a statement on Thursday.
"This weekend marks the first weekend that many businesses are able to be open, including restaurants and indoor dining. The notion that any protest would keep these businesses — hit hard by the pandemic — from being open or drive customers away is unacceptable."
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