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Jazzfest plans to close Confederation Park on Canada Day as a precaution


The festival’s general manager says she has been assured by Ottawa police that she will not allow Jazzfest to be disrupted by protests.

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The Ottawa Jazz Festival plans to close Confederation Park on Canada Day as a precaution against ‘freedom of movement’ protesters.

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Free concerts will still be held on the Jazzfest Secondary Stage at City Hall’s Marion Dewar Square, across from Confederation Park. This site is smaller and easier to control, explains Catherine O’Grady, executive director of Jazzfest.

Traditionally, Jazzfest offers free concerts on July 1 at both locations, with people moving between them and picnicking at Confederation Park.

This year, however, the gates to Confederation Park will be closed on Canada Day, O’Grady said Wednesday. The festival has rented the park from June 24 to July 3, so they can control who uses it.

“Why risk errant behavior that might break out there?” she says.

“We have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of expensive equipment (in Confederation Park). We don’t want to take any chances, so we’re closing Confederation Park completely. »

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At the same time, O’Grady encouraged people not to be afraid to come downtown to enjoy the free music on Canada Day.

A few days ago, festival organizers released a statement saying they “will not be intimidated or threatened by outsiders who may want to disrupt the first big music event of the season.”

O’Grady said it was prompted by emails from concerned Jazzfest patrons who lived downtown and had experienced the trucker “convoy” occupation in downtown Ottawa last winter.

Some fans were worried about attending Jazzfest events on June 30 and Canada Day, when anti-vaccine mandate events are scheduled downtown, she said.

However, O’Grady said she was reassured by the Ottawa Police Service at a meeting on Wednesday that there would be a significant police presence downtown and that officers would not allow the festival to continue. be disturbed.

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“They reassured us that they will keep everyone safe and under control. They were reassured by the people in the convoy…that they want to be peaceful, that they want to behave, that they just want to exercise their right to demonstrate and demonstrate peacefully.

“I hope people trust the police to protect them and don’t let (the protests) spoil our fun.”

Jazzfest plans to close Confederation Park on Canada Day as a precaution
On Wednesday, a Jazzfest stage moves to Marion Dewar Plaza in front of Ottawa City Hall. Photo by Julie Olivier /Postmedia

On Canada Day, a picnic and ‘liberation’ concert is scheduled on the Supreme Court lawn in the morning, followed by an afternoon march down Wellington Street to the town hall to hear speeches. Events are advertised as family.

Free Jazzfest concerts are scheduled in City Hall’s Marion Dewar Square this afternoon and evening.

A leading organizer of Canada Day “freedom” events, Veterans 4 Freedom, declined an interview Wednesday. The organization’s policy is not to speak to mainstream or government-funded media “due to your recent history of not reporting the real news and trying to formulate a narrative,” the spokesperson said. Andrew MacGillivray.

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Canada Marches, organizer of the June 30 event at the National War Memorial, did not respond to an interview request.

The key figure behind this event is James Topp, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran who traveled across Canada to protest against COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

In videos posted to social media, Topp said the National War Memorial event would be peaceful and constructive and that he was not coming to Ottawa to yell and shout, shout insults or disrupt traffic. Topp said people carrying a “Fu**Trudeau” banner or an upside-down Canadian flag would not be welcome. (Both were visible during the truck convoy occupation.)

Topp, in a post on the group’s website, said he was inspired by the truck convoy last winter, but his march was “not the freedom convoy.”

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His protest is independent and has these goals, according to information on the website: the end of COVID-19 vaccines as a requirement for employment in the public and private sectors or for travel and the end of vaccine passports; the reinstatement of workers who lost their jobs due to vaccination mandates and the restitution of their lost income; a ban on confinements; and healing the divisions caused by the mandates.

O’Grady said she was concerned about how the June 30 Marches du Canada event at the National War Memorial might affect Jazzfest.

Some fans are hesitant to travel downtown amid “freedom” events, and if it’s crowded, it can be difficult to get to the festival grounds, she said.

Some customers have requested refunds for tickets for June 30, which the festival is unable to provide, she said.

The ceremony at the War Memorial is scheduled for late afternoon. Concerts are held at the nearby National Arts Center at this time, and O’Grady says she is concerned about bleeding from the noise.

“Hopefully there will be joy and celebrations that everyone can share. Neighbors connecting again, families connecting again, that’s certainly our raison d’être, and we do that through music.

jmiller@postmedia.com

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