Increased police presence at Ottawa beaches, parks, ByWard Market over weekend

Patrons settle up with a server on a pub's outdoor patio in Ottawa on the first day of Ontario's first phase of reopening amidst the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, on Friday, June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ottawa police officers will have a bigger presence at the city’s beaches and parks, as well as in areas of the downtown core, over the weekend in an effort to keep a tight cap on COVID-19 restrictions amid the first few days of the provincial reopening.

Police, bylaw officers and OC Transpo special constables will have stepped up patrols in high-traffic areas of the city including the ByWard Market and downtown Rideau neighbourhoods.

The Ottawa Police Service said in a statement it will take a “zero tolerance approach to disorderly behaviours,” specifically citing Liquor Licence Act offences and other “criminal activity.”

Police will be working with bylaw officers to enforce limits in line with Step 1 of Ontario’s provincial reopening framework, which allows for gatherings of up to 10 people outdoors. Patios are permitted to reopen at a capacity allowing a distance of two metres between each table.

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Read more: Here are the rules for patios in Ottawa under step 1 of Ontario reopening

In addition to a stepped-up police presence, the city is clamping down on rules at Mooney’s Bay in light of “ongoing issues” at the popular beach, according to the ward councillor.

Mooney’s Bay will close to the public at 9 p.m. from Friday through Sunday — two hours earlier than other parks in the city — as part of a pilot project to enforce public health measures at the site.

River Coun. Riley Brockington said he wrote to the city manager on June 7 asking for a plan to remedy a long list of problems he’s observed or heard from residents using the park.

They include:

  • Large crowds, loud music in the park well after 11 p.m.
  • Garbage and litter at the site in the mornings
  • Discharge of fireworks
  • Dogs in the area despite the designation as a no-dogs park
  • Smoking at the site
  • Open consumption of alcohol and delivery of alcohol to the park
  • Public urination and a lack of open washrooms
  • Congestion in the parking lot from vehicles improperly parked and rideshare drop-offs
  • Backlog of vehicles onto Riverside Drive

Similar issues were reported at Mooney’s Bay and surrounding areas back in April, prompting the city to consider earlier closure times for “problematic parks” across the city.

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Critics have argued that increasing police presence and restricting access to public spaces can be harmful to the unhoused and could contribute to the over-policing of Black and racialized residents.

Brockington told Global News in an email he has consulted with city staff, bylaw, police, paramedics and the local community association on an action plan to address the issues at Mooney’s Bay.

Click to play video: 'Ontarians race to fill patios, shop in-store as province enters phase 1 of reopening' Ontarians race to fill patios, shop in-store as province enters phase 1 of reopening
Ontarians race to fill patios, shop in-store as province enters phase 1 of reopening – Jun 11, 2021

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