Ottawa police say they are prepared for any violence or crime that may occur this weekend as a large number of trucks and protesters roll into the capital to speak out against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Police have also warned that the downtown demonstrations could continue beyond Sunday.
In an emergency news conference, Ottawa's police chief said there was good communication with convoy organizers, who pledged that their demonstrations would be peaceful.
However, police had not been able to engage with other, parallel demonstrators. The chief also warned that there are individuals using social media to incite hate and violence to take place in the city.
'We are prepared to investigate, arrest if necessary, charge and prosecute anyone who acts violently or breaks the law in the demonstrations," said Chief Peter Sloly.
Sloly said there was still no confirmed number of trucks nor people expected to arrive in downtown Ottawa for the main demonstration set to take place on Saturday, January 29. There will be a large police presence -- both uniformed and plainclothes -- in the area around Parliament Hill and on local highways.
Ottawa police have asked other police agencies to assist in their response. They did not specify which agencies, but Toronto Police tell CityNews that they are sending resources to Ottawa, at the request of the Ottawa Police Service.
Police also took time to urge residents to be prepared for widespread traffic delays.
"Try to do any shopping or errands today," Sloly urged people who live near downtown Ottawa. "Anticipate that there will be little ability for home delivery services in the core."
Truckers and drivers of other vehicles are being directed to multiple routes to access downtown Ottawa, including some far outside the core.
"We will be routing some trucks in from the western route, and the routes that we have got selected so far involve the Pinecrest exit, we have the Kent exit," said Acting Deputy Police Chief Trish Ferguson. "East of the core, we have the Sir George Etienne Cartier Parkway, and we will be monitoring traffic coming over from the Quebec side, as well."
Typically, large protests co-ordinate with the city to arrange for porta-potties to be set up in advance. The concern has been increased by the fact that many washrooms are closed to the public because of provincial health measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. On Thursday, Mayor Jim Watson told CityNews that he was unaware of any arrangements being made for portable toilets.
"We currently assessing the need and quantity," said Kim Ayotte, the City of Ottawa's head of emergency and protective services. "We also have information to suggest that the organizers...have ordered porta-potties, so now, we're competing with them, with regards to access."
Police say the main demonstration will take place on Saturday and Sunday, but Ottawa's police chief said he would be "extremely concerned," if a large set of demonstrations continued into next week.
"We are prepared and capable to remove vehicles," Sloly said. "We are prepared and capable to provide by-law enforcement, Highway Traffic Act enforcement and criminal enforcement, should it be necessary."