Four people arrested at National War Memorial in Ottawa as Canada Day celebrations begin

Four people were arrested in downtown Ottawa Thursday evening, as thousands of people began arriving in the capital for Canada Day celebrations.

Ottawa police say officers responded to a "situation" in the Wellington Street and Elgin Street area, and the incidents included "assaulting officers."

CTV News' Mackenzie Gray said the people were arrested at the National War Memorial, where some gathered to welcome Canadian Forces veteran James Topp following his March to Freedom. 

Ottawa police said late Thursday evening the investigation into the incident continues.

"We are reviewing video and investigating the incident at the National War Memorial this evening," police said on Twitter. "The initial investigation finds that an interaction with officers became confrontational and 1 officer was choked. Other officers immediately responded, 4 people were arrested."

The arrests were announced hours after the police chief encouraged people to visit downtown Ottawa and LeBreton Flats to celebrate Canada Day, promising it will be a "safe environment."

Police officers in cruisers, on foot patrol and on bicycles are patrolling the Parliamentary Precinct, the ByWard Market and the so-called "motor vehicle control zone," as the city prepares for Canada's 155th birthday celebrations and possible protests.

"Come, don't be worried. This is a festival. This is to celebrate Canada, that's why we've gone to the extent we have to put the plans in place and the resources around it," interim Chief Steve Bell told The Evan Solomon Show. "It's going to be a safe environment tomorrow, that's why we're here to ensure that."

Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit LeBreton Flats for Canada Day celebrations or visit restaurants and attractions throughout the downtown core. Several protests are planned in downtown Ottawa on Thursday and Friday.

Bell says Ottawa police and its policing partners are prepared for anything.

"It is going to be big tomorrow because it's Canada Day, so there could be in excess of 100,000 people down in and around this area," Bell said. "In amongst those will be those people lawfully engaged in protesting. That's what we've planned around so we're prepared for whatever eventuality comes."

Officers from the Ontario Provincial Police, RCMP and municipal police forces have been deployed to Ottawa to assist with Ottawa police.

A motor vehicle control zone has been set up from Colonel By Drive/Sussex Drive in the east, Booth Street in the west, Wellington Street in the north and Laurier Avenue in the east, along with the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. 

"Officers are being vigilant about what's coming in, trying to keep the normal flow of traffic coming in through the area."

Motor vehicles taking part in any form of demonstration, event or protest will not be permitted in the downtown area. There will be no on-street parking or stopping on roads in the control zone.

Ottawa Bylaw said that since 8 a.m. Wednesday, officers have issued 234 parking tickets and towed 59 vehicles located in the vehicle control zone around the Parliamentary Precinct.

On Wednesday, officers stopped a small convoy of vehicles in the area of Pinecrest Road and Hwy. 417 and several tickets were issued.   In an interview on CTV News Ottawa Wednesday evening, Bell defended the actions of officers to stop vehicles in the capital region.

"We actually have good legal grounds for the plans we've put in place. We make sure that we stay on legal grounds because that's very important as a police service," Bell said. "We're comfortable with the posture we're taking and the actions officers are taking, and it's all in the name that we ensure public safety and we can have a good, festive Canada Day."

FOUR PEOPLE ARRESTED DOWNTOWN

Ottawa police say four people were arrested when officers responded to a "situation" in the Wellington Street and Elgin Street area Thursday evening.

"Incidents include assaulting officers," police said on Twitter.

The area of Wellington and Elgin is at the National War Memorial, where hundreds of people had gathered.

POLICE OPERATION

Ottawa police say one person was arrested for breaching their bail conditions in the east end.

Police were involved in an ongoing operation on Highway 417 at Anderson Road Friday morning.

Police say the person was arrested for breaching bail conditions, which included not entering Ottawa. A vehicle was also towed.

LEBRETON FLATS

Preparations continued through the day Thursday for Canada Day festivities at LeBreton Flats.

"It's great to finally be back again and be back at it," said vendor Paul Baker. "Missed it the last few years."

Tourists began arriving in Ottawa for the birthday celebrations.

"I am most excited to be on Parliament Hill," said Ann Health, who is visiting from the United States. "This is super exciting. Just to feel the energy."

Hamzrah Riaz is visiting Ottawa from Kitchener.

"We are looking forward to joining the celebrations tomorrow night. The fireworks and all the amazing stuff that’s going on here."

SNOWBIRDS 

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will not be taking part in Canada Day festivities in Ottawa.

The Royal Canadian Air Force announced the Snowbirds fly-past over Ottawa on Friday has been cancelled, following a problem with the aircraft's emergency ejection parachute that grounded the fleet for nearly a week.

PARLIAMENT HILL

Visitors to Parliament Hill will need to pass through a security checkpoint, and be searched by a Parliamentary Protective Service officer.

A sign on the fence along Wellington Street says several items are restricted, including tables, speakers, barbecues, aerosols, weapons, fireworks and sporting equipment.

MOTOR VEHICLE CONTROL ZONE

A motor vehicle control zone remains in effect around the Parliamentary Precinct, downtown Ottawa and roads near LeBreton Flats.

The zone stretches from Colonel By Drive/Sussex Drive in the east, Booth Street in the west, Laurier Avenue in the south and Wellington Street in the north, along with the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and Albert Street west of Booth Street.

The roads in the motor vehicle control zone are not closed today; however, motor vehicles taking part in any form of demonstration, event or protest will not be permitted in the area. There will be no on-street parking or stopping on roads in the control zone.

TICKETING AND TOWING VEHICLES

Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services says officers are out ensuring all parking regulations are observed in the motor vehicle control zone.

"All vehicles found failing to observe the no-stopping zones will be ticketed and towed. Parking time limits and no parking zones outside the centre core will also be strictly enforced," the city said.

Ottawa Bylaw will also be focusing on the following bylaws to ensure residents and visitors obey the rules over the Canada Day weekend.

  • No unnecessary motor-vehicle or other noise, including speakers or shouting
  • No unnecessary motor-vehicle idling
  • No encumbering a sidewalk or roadway by any means, including setting up tents or other illegal structures
  • No public urination and defecation
  • No open air fires
  • No littering
  • Discharging of fireworks – contravening any regulations under Fireworks By-Law.


DOWNTOWN PARKING

Ottawa City Hall and the underground municipal parking facility will be closed all weekend.

City Hall and the parking structure will be closed from 5 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. on Monday.