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Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says that he has reached an agreement with the leadership of the “Freedom Convoy” to remove trucks from residential neighborhoods this week.
Watson’s office told Canadian councilors on Sunday that he has reached an agreement through “backchannel negotiations” for the convoy to remove trucks blocking residential streets, according to CTV News.
“We have made a plan to consolidate our protest efforts around Parliament Hill,” “Freedom Convoy” president Tamara Lich said in a letter to Watson, adding that the “Freedom Convoy” board agrees with the request to alleviate pressure on residential areas and that organizers are currently working to get the truckers to “buy in.”
“The Freedom Convoy Board agree with your request to reduce pressure on the residents and businesses in the City of Ottawa,” Lich wrote. “We have made a plan to consolidate our protest efforts around Parliament Hill. We will be working hard over the next 24 hours to get buy in from the truckers. We hope to start repositioning our trucks on Monday.”
Watson had written to Lich saying that residents are “exhausted and on edge” and that the blockades are “teetering on the brink of permanent closure” for some businesses.
“I don’t believe these harmful effects on our community and its residents were the intended consequences of your protest,” Watson wrote.
Watson said that he wants to see “clear evidence” that trucks are being moved from residential streets by Monday and will meet with the convoy organizers if they meet certain conditions.
First, they “must remove all trucks from the residential districts south of Wellington Street, and from all other residential areas including the market, the Ottawa Baseball Stadium on Coventry, etc.”
Second, they must “agree to not backfill the residential areas currently occupied with trucks, other vehicles and/or demonstrators.”
Third, they must “agree to not displace the truck convoy, vehicles and/or demonstrators to other residential areas in the City of Ottawa.”
The “Convoy,” which has blocked major roadways and border crossings in Canada for 17 days, claimed that its initial protest of 1,600 trucks swelled to 36,000 over the first week, though the Washington Post places the number closer to 8,000. The cause has drawn international attention and support, with a U.S. trucker protest possibly starting this weekend in Los Angeles around the Super Bowl, the Department of Homeland Security announced.
In a statement posted to Facebook on Jan. 26, the Canadian truckers clearly stated their demands, which they tied to personal freedoms from government overreach: The truckers demanded in the letter that the Canadian government remove the vaccine mandates and terminate any government-backed digital tracking platform such as the COVID-19 vaccine passport and contact tracing programs.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report