Canada Day celebrations and downtown safety measures get mixed reviews

Downtown Ottawa hasn’t seen anything close to the number of revelers it usually sees during Canada Day celebrations, according to businesses in the area.

Sam Elsaadi, owner of Crêperie Rim on Sparks Street, said there was almost ‘no one around’ and some tourists he spoke with were unaware the event had been moved to LeBreton Flats due to construction. construction in progress on Parliament Hill.

” It’s disappointing. I have my employees here, I would say to them, “Expect Canada Day to be busy, busy,” and they would just kinda laugh like, “Where are the people? They say last Saturday we’re busier than [Canada Day] morning because of the traffic,” Elsaadi said.

He believes the road closures “scared people away” from coming downtown and that holding the event off Parliament Hill impacted businesses in the Byward Market and Bank Street.

“What’s the problem? It’s another protest,” he said. “It’s sad to hear that the event was far away.”

Elsaadi said when customers walked into the store on Friday evening, they wondered why the celebrations weren’t taking place on the Hill.

Jason Komendat, owner of Retro Rides on Sparks Street, said Canada Day was busy enough, but a far cry from what the store usually sees on July 1. (Radio Canada)

“Exaggerated” police presence

Jason Komendat, owner of Retro Rides on Sparks Street, said Canada Day was busy enough but not as busy as usual. He questioned the level of law enforcement put in place to prevent protesters associated with the Freedom Convoy movement from staging another occupation of downtown streets.

“I felt really frustrated with the way it was all handled. I realize it needed some presence, but I think it was way overkill,” he said. Police created an enforcement red zone that “created fear” and kept residents away, Komendat added.

“What we’re going through as a small business on Sparks Street is a slow death. We’re going to be lucky to get to the end of this season,” he said. “We have property taxes, rent arrears that are really going to be unpayable.”

Bogdan Wozniak has been selling hot dogs in Ottawa every Canada Day since 1988.

He said he’s had busier years, but he still sold more than 200 hot dogs — a sold-out sale for him — by 6:30 p.m.

“From my point of view, it was very well organized. And it was very peaceful, very nice on Canada Day,” he said.

Bogdan Wozniak has been selling hot dogs every Canada Day in Ottawa since 1988. (Radio Canada)

Residents give mixed reviews

Franklin McKay was living downtown during the Freedom Convoy protest earlier this year. He said he and his wife decided to spend their first in-person Canada Day celebrations in Montreal for a quieter, less dramatic weekend.

“Ultimately, based on [what happened in] February, we thought it would be a little safer to venture into Montreal. So maybe next year [we’ll stay in Ottawa],” he said.

Abdou Diallo also lived downtown, but returned for Canada Day.

“Actually, it wasn’t too bad. We’re used to it. Every Canada Day is pretty much the same, so honestly, it was pretty much like every other Canada Day,” he said. he declares.

“It was just a little smaller but it all went well. Thank goodness.”

Advisor calls police enforcement ‘a balancing act’

The Councilor representing downtown Ottawa described the Canada Day weekend as a success.

Somerset County Catherine McKenney pointed to planning and coordination as among the reasons Freedom Convoy-adjacent protesters who came to town were unable – and largely unwilling – to gain a foothold downtown from Ottawa.

“I think the main thing is not to allow any occupation to take hold, not to allow any big or any type of vehicle to come in and stay,” they said.

“There’s been an increased police presence. It’s a shame we have to have that; a lot of people have also expressed concern about that. It’s a real balancing act that you have to play to make sure that the police are there to respond to any violence, trouble, but at the same time it’s not something we want to see in our city, we would really like to see it go back to normal.”

Between June 29 and July 4, officers issued 527 parking tickets and towed 125 vehicles, the city’s by-laws department said Monday. Provincial offense notices have also been issued for obstructing a road, piling materials on a road, etc.


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Susan W. Lloyd