Police close Hwy. 401 on ramp amid concerns about safety of large crowd lining trucker convoy route

Ontario Provincial Police are warning motorists about the potential for significant delays as a trucker convoy protesting vaccine mandates, among other things, makes its way through the Greater Toronto Area today.

The group of truckers began a cross-country trip in British Columbia over the weekend and are headed to Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

There are at least two groups – one which is headed straight for the nation’s capital and another that is reportedly traveling from Windsor.

On Thursday morning police closed the on-ramp from Keele Street to westbound Highway 401 amid concerns about the safety of several hundred people that had gathered on an embankment and a highway overpass to show support for the truckers. There was also a large crowd of demonstrators observed at a planned meeting point in Vaughan Mills, many of whom were holding signage that was critical of lockdowns and other public health measures.

The protest was initially organized in response to a new rule prohibiting unvaccinated truckers from crossing the border without quarantining.

But numerous individuals participating in the demonstration have since expressed that it is also about various other policies that they say infringe on their freedoms.

So far a number of political leaders have declared elements of the protest, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has suggested that there are “small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa who are holding unacceptable views” when it comes to public health restrictions. He has said that those individuals “do not represent the views of Canadians.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has also made it clear that it has nothing to do with the protest.

Meanwhile, a Maru Public Opinion released on Thursday that only showed 28 per cent of support allowing unvaccinated truckers to cross the border freely. About two-third of said that unvaccinated truckers should either be prohibited from crossing the border (36 per cent) or required to produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test completed in the previous 72 hours (36 per cent).

Delays expected on 400-series highways

At this point it remains unclear which routes will be impacted by the rolling demonstration but the OPP said in a tweet that delays are possible on the QEW, Highway 400, Highway 427, Highway 403, and Highway 401 over the next few days.

The OPP also issued an alert just before 11 am to draw attention to the fact that emergency responders were experiencing difficulty navigating the “congested traffic” on some routes.

“We are going to be monitoring the situation and we are working with the organizers and communicating with them to try to understand what their intentions are,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told CP24 on Wednesday night. “It is their obligation and responsibility to maintain lawful activities and we will be ensuring that as well and doing what we can to be present as needed. ,

Organizers of the so-called “freedom convoy” have insisted that the event is peaceful and will follow all local laws.

However, Ottawa Police said in a series of messages posted on Twitter on Thursday that they have become aware of “inappropriate and threatening language on social media” related to the event.

“We welcome peaceful demonstrations. That said, public safety is paramount – there will be consequences for persons engaging in criminal conduct, violence and/or activities promoting hate,” they said.

GO transit has previously warned riders that some of its bus routes my experience delays today due to the convoy. They are urging passengers to “check for train alternatives” when possible and give themselves extra time.

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