Canada

Ottawa police end 24/7 checkpoints at interprovincial crossings

The change in tactics came after a review of their effectiveness by the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, Ottawa Public Health and other police services.

Ottawa police screening travellers entering Ontario from Quebec on the Champlain Bridge in support of public health orders issued by the Government of Ontario.

Less than 48 hours after they went up, Ottawa Police Service checkpoints at interprovincial crossings are coming down.

In a statement, police said they would end their 24/7 presence on the bridges at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Rotating spot checks will still be conducted at the five bridges and two ferry crossings until the Ontario emergency order limiting interprovincial travel is lifted, the statement said.

The change in tactics came after a review of their effectiveness by the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, Ottawa Public Health and other police services.

“The operational changes announced today are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travellers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time,” the statement said.

“We have been and will remain focused on our stated goal of ensuring our education, engagement and enforcement actions support improved public health outcomes and respect the concerns of our most marginalized and racialized communities all while enabling compliance with the Provincial Order restricting interprovincial travel.”

The checkpoints, announced Friday by Premier Doug Ford, infuriated commuters and caused hours long delays for some as they headed into Ottawa from West Quebec for work Monday. At times, the lineup of traffic stretched for 10 kilometres. Police did not issue any tickets and simply waved most cars through without stopping them, but they did turn back more than 30 vehicles throughout the day.

An Ottawa Police Services officer screen a traveller crossing the Chaudière Bridge on Tuesday.
An Ottawa Police Services officer screen a traveller crossing the Chaudière Bridge on Tuesday. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson criticized the “chaos at the bridges” and said Monday he would take his concerns to the premier. Watson was not consulted before the provincial announcement.

Despite the change in police policy, Ontario’s stay-at-home order remains in effect and people from Quebec are only allowed to enter into Ontario if they live there, work there, are transporting goods there or are coming to Ontario for health care or social services. Those exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights are also exempt, as are those entering the province for compassionate or humanitarian reasons.

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