"Freedom Convoy" subject to enforcement if hospital access disrupted: Toronto Police

Feb 4 2022, 9:08 pm

The Toronto Police Service will prioritize emergency access routes to hospitals at the “Freedom Convoy” protest expected to descend on Queen’s Park this weekend.

Chief of Police Jim Ramer says they want to ensure patients, their families and healthcare workers are able to access hospitals safely.

“Anyone who attempts to disrupt hospital access and routes of emergency operations, including ambulance fire or police will be subject to strict enforcement,” said Ramer in a news conference on Friday.

He was joined by Staff Superintendent Lauren Pogue, who detailed the preparations so far.

As of 11:30 am, road closures have been put in place for the areas of University Avenue and College Street, known as hospital row. Pogue says they’ve added parking restrictions to the area surrounding University Avenue.

Additional CCTV cameras have been installed and police officers have been directed to have their body cameras turned on during the protest.

While the city and police prepare to deal with anti-vaccine mandate protesters, there have also been reports of a counter-protest in support of health workers.

The three city councillors for downtown Toronto say they’ve also taken steps to prepare for the demonstrations this weekend.

“People have a fundamental right to protest,” said Toronto City Councillors Joe Cressy, Mike Layton, and Kristyn Wong-Tam in a statement on Friday. “But as soon as this protest crosses a line where there is hate speech or symbols, harassment, or interferes with hospital and health care operations or access to healthcare it cannot be tolerated.

They ensure residents that the Toronto Police will remove any hate symbols and that there will be police resources dedicated specifically to focusing on protecting the safety of businesses and residents nearby.

Ramer and Pogue were also joined by Mayor John Tory, who said the police had been preparing for this protest with the support of the city.

“We all want to do everything we can to avoid the situation that we’re seeing in Ottawa,” he said.

This comes almost a week after the anti-vaccine mandate protest parked in Ottawa. Ottawans have warned Torontonians to prepare for the noise the protest is expected to bring.

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