Notes taken during a meeting between city employees and “Freedom Convoy” protesters show the City of Ottawa entertained allowing big-rig trucks to remain on the street along Parliament Hill indefinitely, the court heard Thursday.
The notes were produced by the defence during the criminal trial of two convoy organizers, Tamara Lich and Chris Barber. They had struck a deal with then-mayor Jim Watson to move trucks out of residential neighbourhoods and onto Wellington Street during the protest last year.
The city’s emergency services manager, Kim Ayotte, was at the meeting between city staff, police and convoy organizers, which took place on Feb. 13.
“Kim Ayotte produced maps and outlined the area on Wellington that the city is agreeable to stage trucks indefinitely,” said minutes of that meeting, which were filed as evidence in court.
Ayotte told the court Thursday that police never agreed to stage the trucks indefinitely, and that was not part of the deal.
“Police were in the room and they did not agree to that,” Ayotte said on the witness stand.
Ayotte said he considered the agreement they struck a success on Feb. 14, when Barber reported to Ayotte that he had worn himself out moving 40 trucks.
Those efforts stopped on Feb. 15 after an incident between police and protesters.
“We had little troubles this morning in communication with some city police,” Barber wrote to Ayotte in a text message sent Feb. 15. The message was filed as evidence in the trial.
“Kinda put things on hold till issues are resolved.”
Ayotte testified that police gave him limited information about why the deal fell through.
That day of the meeting with convoy organizers, Ayotte signed an affidavit in support of the city’s request to the Ontario Superior Court for an injunction against people who violated city bylaws.
Lawrence Greenspon, the lawyer representing Lich, said Ayotte’s affidavit did not mention the agreement by convoy organizers to reduce the footprint of the protest zone that had been struck earlier the day.
In response to questioning by Greenspon, Ayotte also confirmed that no one with the City of Ottawa mentioned the coming injunction application to protesters at that meeting with organizers.
That application was ultimately heard in court without opposition, because no specific protesters were named in the court filings.