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Ottawa police won't issue fines as border restrictions take effect Monday

Last Updated Apr 18, 2021 at 9:33 pm EDT

A truck travels past a sign welcoming people to Ontario at the Thousand Islands US/Canada border crossing in Lansdowne, Ontario on Monday, September 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Ottawa police say they plan to start enforcing restrictions on interprovincial travel at the Ontario-Quebec border on Monday but for the time being, there are no plans to issue fines to anyone trying to enter the province.

As part of the Ford government’s enhanced stay-at-home measures announced Friday, non-essential travel into Ontario from Manitoba and Quebec is restricted and a person may be stopped by police who may ask questions as to their purpose for coming into the province.

Ottawa police say they will have checkpoints set up on a 24-7 basis on the Ontario side of the Champlain, Portage, Chaudière and Macdonald-Cartier bridges, as well as the Quyon and Bourbonnais ferries.

Police will also have a presence at the Alexandra Bridge, as the provincial order also applies to pedestrians and cyclists.

Insp. Michel Marin of the Ottawa Police Service tells CityNews Ottawa there are no plans to issue fines to drivers, cyclists or pedestrians trying to enter the province.

“We’re trying to plan this in a way that [the interaction at the border] is going to be a short conversation,” he said. “If we’re asking them to turn around for whatever reason, we’ll be keeping tabs on that.”

Police say individuals will not have to show any special documentation beyond that to operate a vehicle, however, they will be required to provide their name, address and reason for travelling.

As for repeat offenders who continue to try and cross the border, police say they are still working out those details.

“We’re also going to find out from other agencies who have done this in the past — if they’ve had any of those types of issues,” Marin explained. “But I don’t see ourselves going into a position where we’re going to be providing fines to people who are constantly trying to come into the province with good reason.”

Permitted reasons to cross into the province under the new restrictions include, but are not limited to, being an essential worker, travelling for medical care, transportation of goods or to Indigenous Treaty rights

Marin stressed that their approach is limited to the Ottawa Police Service, and that the OPP and RCMP will not be assisting but instead will have their own plans when it comes to their jurisdictions.

Ontario Provincial Police will have checkpoints set up along the Ontario-Quebec border in eastern Ontario and those not travelling for essential reasons will be refused entry in Ontario.

OPP officials say with very few exceptions they will be stopping incoming passenger vehicles with out-of-province plates to determine their reason for crossing the border.

Officials say commercial vehicles, such as transport trucks, will be permitted to pass without entering border checkpoints. And while vehicles bearing Ontario license plates will be required to enter the checkpoint, they will also be allowed to proceed.

Similar checkpoints will also be set up along the Ontario-Manitoba border.