Tow-truck companies refuse to lug away large trucks blocking Ottawa streets

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By Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

Ottawa’s city manager says all tow-truck companies on contract with the city have refused to haul away the big rigs that have gridlocked Ottawa’s downtown for the second week in a row.

Steve Kanellakos says the consensus seems to be that many of the companies don’t want to do the work because the heavy truck industry is such a large part of their livelihoods and they won’t want to damage that part of their businesses.

He says the city is reviewing the contracts to see what recourse it has in this unprecedented situation.

The trucks have been blocking city streets and blowing air horns day and night in Ottawa since January 28 in protest of vaccine mandates.

In the meantime, Ottawa’s mayor has reached out to other large Ontario cities to see if they can help, and the city is calling companies across Eastern Ontario.

Kanellakos says the tow companies are still doing other work for the City of Ottawa, including towing regularly sized vehicles.

Ottawa’s deputy police chief said Tuesday that a quarter of the 418 trucks still camped out in the city’s downtown have children in them.

Steve Bell says there are no plans to remove the children, but he says police are concerned because of the cold and because the kids could be at risk in a potential enforcement operation.

“… We’re concerned about access to sanitation, the ability to shower,” Bell said. “There’s a multitude of concerns. That’s why we’re raising it and identifying it as something that we need to address. We need to have discussions with our partners and the children’s aid society about how we manage [to] moving ahead.”

Bell says officers are focused on hardening the perimeter around downtown and preventing fuel from getting to the trucks parked there — but demonstrators have been trying to subvert those efforts.

Police say they have made 22 arrests related to the ongoing protests against COVID-19 restrictions and also issued more than 1,300 tickets.

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