Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are giving motorists who travel along the QEW between Niagara and Toronto a heads up for potential delays on Thursday.
Trucks involved in the so-called “freedom convoy” are set to travel along the thoroughfare to meet other groups protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa on Saturday.
“We’re expecting vehicles large and small converging into the GTA area from different areas across the province,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said in a social media post on Wednesday.
“We understand that these convoys may affect traffic flow. There could be potential disruptions with that. So if you are a motorist in that area, plan ahead.”
Truckers are expected in the Hamilton-area for a gathering at a truck stop on Kenora Avenue sometime around 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning.
Schmidt said OPP will be out monitoring affected routes and are expecting to provide updates.
“Our provincial liaison teams are working diligently with the organizers to ensure public safety and traffic safety for everybody,” said Schmidt.
“We do expect drivers to maintain a sense of movement, keeping the highways flowing for emergency vehicles and for other users of the highways.”
The HSR said it has adjusted routes 2 Barton, 4 Bayfront and 44 Rymal. Those stretches will be detour between 9 and 11 a.m.
The service is suggesting anyone using those routes should allow for extra time and keep up to date with their HSRnow app.
Canada Unity, the group hosting schedules for the routes, suggests truckers will meet in Fort Erie Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. on Pettit Road before moving on to York Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Vehicles are expected to leave Niagara Region on the QEW at 8 a.m., hitting Hamilton and Halton Region before the afternoon.
OPP say traffic disruptions are expected along all 400 highways in Ontario including the 400, 427, 403 and 401.
Three main routes across Canada make up the arteries that will converge for the Ottawa protest on the weekend.
The Southern Ontario routes kick off from Windsor, Sarnia, Niagara and Toronto. All will stop in Kingston on Thursday night before heading to Ottawa Friday.
A west route with multiple arteries between B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan that will drive through to Sault Ste. Marie before hitting the capital.
An east path starting in Newfoundland is to travel through P.E.I. and Quebec.
The supporters are demonstrating COVID-19 vaccine mandates Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has placed on truck drivers.
A “memorandum of understanding,” posted on the Canada Unity website, says its coalition is opposed to restrictions and mandates related to COVID-19, rules it deems are “unconstitutional, discriminatory and segregating.”
In November 2021, the PM announced that all Canadian truckers looking to cross the border from the United States would need to be vaccinated in order to avoid a 14-day quarantine.
The initiative took effect Jan. 15. The U.S implemented a similar policy last Saturday.
— with files from Global News and wire services