By Toon Dreesen, Ottawa Citizen Op-Ed, January 31, 2023
It has been a year since protestors took over Ottawa’s downtown core, rendering streets impassible and fundamentally shifting how we think about public space in our core. Restaurants and small businesses, already hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, are attempting to rebrand the downtown area as SoPa (South of Parliament) and, like residents, gird against possible future protests.
The downtown is no stranger to throngs of people taking over the streets. But unlike the response to a joyous event, like Canada Day or the short-lived visit of La Machine, we need different actions when the intent is less joyous. We need to prepare so our city functions not only as a place for people who live here, but as a place for people to gather, to celebrate, to mourn and, yes, to protest.