Trucks Take a Stand: Downtown Ottawa Is Blocked Off

In a protest action, downtown Ottawa is gridlocked with heavy trucks of various sizes. Truckers have parked their massive vehicles throughout the busy area of this Canadian city as a form of vehicular protest against current coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. This blockage is now entering its second week, and authorities are unsure what to do about these large semis keeping the roads logjammed.

They have taken over the city

According to CBC, 40 trucks are blocking Kent Street, another 109 on Wellington Street, and many more are spread out on other streets around this downtown area. Anyone trying to get to the businesses in these areas has to park outside of the truck block and walk to where they need to go.

The Ottawa police have reported 500 heavy trucks in the restricted “red zone.” These vehicles are parked illegally, which is the point of the protest. Many truckers aren’t concerned about being towed out of the area. Tow-truck drivers are on the side of the truckers in this standoff.

Not just any tow truck can do the job

Large tow truck pulling a semi
Semi Being Towed | Advanced Towing Services

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Many of the large vehicles blocking downtown Ottawa are semi-trucks. Moving semis requires a special tow truck. With the air brakes engaged, all 18 wheels lock. The only type of truck that can move a large semi is a big wrecker, but none will touch this 500-truck plus roadblock.

State of emergency declared

According to NBC News, the mayor of Ottawa has declared a state of emergency as of Sunday in response to this trucker protest. The protest began simply as an opposition to vaccination mandates for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border. Since then, it has become a rallying point for those opposed to coronavirus measures imposed by the Canadian Prime Minister. U.S. Republicans are showing support for these truckers and their protest as well.

Equipment isn’t the entire problem

A Row of Semi Trucks Waiting to Cross the Border
Semi Trucks in a Line | Getty Images

Moving an 18-wheeler that has the air brakes engaged is possible. Air from the tow truck can be forced into the system to release the brakes. Even though the big semis on the streets of Ottawa are moveable, most tow companies won’t touch them. Not only would moving these trucks damage the relationship tow companies have with truckers, but the job of moving them is time-consuming and dangerous. Hooking up one truck takes up to thirty minutes. This gives the owner of the truck time to take responsive action against the tow truck driver.

Where to put these heavy-duty vehicles?

The big vehicles blocking the streets of Ottawa aren’t small or half-ton models; they are large, commercial semis. Many of them typically pull a 53-foot trailer filled with goods behind them. To safely move more than 500 of these semis is difficult. The city of Ottawa would need to find a place where they can relocate them until retrieved by the owners. Unfortunately for city officials, no such place exists.

How long with this protest last?

When will the roadblock in Ottawa be removed? This question is one the Mayor of Ottawa, Prime Minister of Canada, and several city officials are trying to answer. Current attempts to remove hundreds of large vehicles from the downtown area have failed. The final say could fall to the truckers and when they choose to unblock the city streets.

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