City of Ottawa says thousands in fines still owed one year after ‘Freedom Convoy’

By David Fraser, The Canadian Press

One year after the “Freedom Convoy” arrived in Ottawa, the city says only about half the value of the tickets handed out during the protests has been paid.

Between Jan. 28 and Feb. 18, 2022, officials handed out 3,812 parking tickets and 318 provincial offence notices for illegal parking, including on private property and in no-parking zones.

Those fines totalled $320,545 – and just over $141,000 of that is still outstanding.

Unpaid fines can lead to license plate denial or the fines can be transferred to property taxes, garnished from wages or referred to a collection agency _ though it is not clear whether Ottawa has taken any of these steps.

The weeks-long protests cost the city about $7 million and cost Ottawa police $55 million, as demonstrators opposed to COVID-19 mandates and the federal government blockaded downtown streets.

The city has asked the federal government to pick up the tab for those costs but no funding announcement has been made.

Last year, the government set aside $6.9 million to cover costs of the protests in Windsor, Ont., where protesters blockaded Canada’s busiest border crossing.

The actual amount Windsor will receive is still under discussion, but the city had asked for millions in compensation for the cost of business closures and restoring public order at the Ambassador Bridge.

Similar protests shut down border crossings in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and near the town of Coutts, Alta., last winter as the majority of “Freedom Convoy” demonstrators camped out in the streets near Parliament Hill.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act to give government, police and banks extraordinary powers to end the protests.

A public inquiry was held last fall into the decision to use the law for the first time since it replaced the War Measures Act in 1988. A final report from that inquiry must be presented to Parliament in February.

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