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Convoy participants start retrieving towed vehicles from impound yard


Every day for the next week, the owners of the 115 vehicles towed will be able to pick them up at 3100 Conroy Rd., provided they cover the city’s costs.

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Small cars, a flatbed, even a tractor, rolled out of a police-controlled impound yard on Conroy Road on Friday. It was a much diminished version of the convoy that descended on Ottawa four weeks ago to protest pandemic-related restrictions and demand all manner of change from vaccine mandates to Canada’s democratically elected government.

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Mark, a Nova Scotian who declined to provide his last name, was picking up his car after the seven-day suspension imposed on most towed vehicles. These were the holdouts who remained after official warnings, when police moved to clear what had become an illegal occupation.

“This is our country. I’m a Canadian. I love my country. And I should be allowed to be anywhere I want in my country, freely,” Mark said, when asked why he stayed.

“We’re just Canadians. We want to be free. We want our country to be the way it used to be.”

Mark had no licence plate left on his car, and three windows and a back windshield smashed. That happened, he said, after he was arrested and handcuffed last Saturday, his car parked on Wellington Street.

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“I was out of the car. There was really no reason for them to bust my windows other than to retaliate, to be mean, whatever, to make my life a little harder.”

Every day for the next week, the owners of the 115 vehicles towed, according to a Feb. 21 police tally, will be able to pick them up at 3100 Conroy Rd. That’s provided they cover the city’s costs: $1,191 for heavy vehicle, or $516 for light. OPS said there were no instructions at this time for what would happen after March 4, the last day of pick-up hours.

Desmond Stone stopped by the impound yard Friday to check on the RV and trailer he drove to Ottawa from Manitoba, with friends, to join the “Freedom Convoy” protest.

“It’s hard to do anything from the sidelines, so, if you want to be involved, you’ve got to be on the field, to be in the game, I think,” said Stone, who’s self-employed in the construction industry.

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“We all have our own reasons of being here and there’s lots of support from home, too, as well, so it was the right choice for us to come.”

After the RV was towed — he said Friday it was in decent shape, though the battery was dead — Stone and his friends were “adopted” by a local, Rick Wilhelm, who welcomed them into his home.

“I’m retired, and I also want my freedom, and I was very glad when I saw these people come in to town,” Wilhelm said.

As for what he’d tell downtown Ottawans angry about what they were put through over the past few weeks, “Well, they want their freedom, too, I should imagine. And freedom comes with a price,” Wilhelm said.

“Their inconvenience, considering what the country’s been through for two years, I think is a very small sacrifice.”

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Steve Vardy, a 41-year-old father from the Niagara area, said he was motivated to come to Ottawa because of his own experience and that of his kids. He spoke of masking in schools, restrictions on free movement at recess, and poor quality online learning, in his opinion, for much of the past two years.

“For me, personally, it was about feeling like I wasn’t alone anymore,” he said. “I was really struggling with my family and friends rejecting everything that I was concerned with.” The COVID-19 vaccine was one example, he explained, but then there was gathering in groups or getting together at Christmas.

“It just gave us all a little hope, right?” Vardy said of the protest.

“Alone when we’re in with our families … and everybody’s upset and angry with us, you feel small.

“But then we all came together here, and we felt like we were a lot bigger and we actually had maybe an opportunity to get some answers or to get some closure, to end this.”

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