Ottawa mayor promises ‘package of measures’ to support businesses affected by convoy protest

Ottawa city council will hear several motions on Wednesday to provide what the mayor calls a “package of measures” to support downtown businesses most affected by the “Freedom Convoy” protest and occupation.

In an email to councillors that was sent to the media, Mayor Jim Watson described several motions that would be brought forward:

A targeted property tax deferral program for eligible retail businesses and restaurants in the affected areas;

Funding to help the most impacted business districts program and market their destinations;

Support for the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition to offer local musical performances in the impacted neighbourhoods;

An expansion of the no-fare transit service measure that will include all routes that bring customers to and from the affected areas, including Line 1; and

No-charge parking for a month on-street and at City garages in the impacted areas.

“I want to thank all Councillors for their support of these measures to help our small businesses thrive after this crisis. I also want to thank our staff in Economic Development and Finance for their work and due diligence making sure this assistance gets to those who need it most,” Watson wrote.

The “Freedom Convoy” protest was cleared off of downtown streets following a two-day police operation Friday that resulted in more than 190 arrests and nearly 400 charges. Police are maintaining a strong presence downtown, restricting access to certain areas, though checkpoints around the ByWard Market were taken down Monday.

The federal government has also announced up to $20 million for Ottawa businesses affected by the convoy occupation.

Council meets Wednesday for the first time since the operation to remove the protesters and trucks from the downtown core. It also follows a heated special council meeting last Wednesday, which saw the removal of Coun. Diane Deans as chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board and the resignation of couns. Carol Anne Meehan and Rawlson King from the police board.