It begins. It began long ago, actually, but the storm is gathering, and zero hour approaches quickly.
On my way home from class tonight, I did a quick survey of the streets. Everything weaponizable on Bank from Wellington to Laurier has been bolted down or removed - except for a handful of newspaper boxes, which I'm guessing will be gone by tomorrow. The No Parking hoods are on metres in the same range; I'm not sure how far west in Centretown that extends, but I'm guessing to at least Bay. Everything seems normal from Gloucester Street south.
So, as long as I'm doing this local-reporting thing, I figure I may as well do it right, with an explanatory infographic:
The northernmost east-west street is Wellington, also occasionally known as Confederation Boulevard when the NCC is feeling cocky. It's solid government and parliamentary offices all the way to the canal. It's a broad thoroughfare that I'm guessing will be closed to traffic entirely tomorrow, as it usually is on Canada Day.
The blue zone is the densest part of Centretown. It houses most of the important office towers not relegated to suburban industrial park. I live in this area, which is largely why downtown protestors annoy me: This is my home
, damn it. I may not care much for Ottawa 90% of the time, but it's mine
, and you don't care how much of a mess you make. I have to live with the consequences of whatever gets broken. The black line is Sparks Street, an open pedestrian mall; it will no doubt be packed if Wellington gets closed off.
Red and green are Lowertown. The red zone covers the Rideau Centre, the Major-General Pearkes Building (DND HQ) and parts of Sandy Hill behind the university. This is a low-density region south of Rideau Street, and will likely be swarming with protestors coming to and from campus. The green zone covers the By Ward Market, home to low-density but marginally more upscale bars and boutiques.
Points of interest:
A. Supreme Court. The wide open lawn will be inviting for rallies, and unlike Parliament Hill, it's flat and unfenced; it'll be harder to block off pedestrian access.
B. Parliament Hill. Always ground zero for protests - there's one most every day for something, even as silly as against banning pit bulls
yesterday and the day before - I'm guessing it will
be locked down for most of the day, since it can be.
C. McDonald's, Bank between Sparks and Queen. Ever the target of anti-Americanism during riots.
D. Bank and Laurier. There's an open plaza on the southwest corner, part of the L'Esplanade Laurier office complex, and a similarly inviting parking lot across the street. That parking metres are available starting south of here makes me suspect this will be an initial base camp for protestors making their way north.
E. Confederation Park. Across from City Hall, the main protest organization plans to concentrate their efforts here.
F. The US Embassy.
Need I say more? It's already a fortress, but I don't envy the Marines on duty tomorrow regardless.
G. Another aggregation of open space, in this case between several parking lots, and near the CHUM MarketMediaMall
. Again, too tempting for the discerning rabble-rousing hippie to resist.
I plan to go out two to three times tomorrow - 9ish, noonish, and 4ish; I can't afford to miss my night class, or I'd cover the 6:00 rally too. I hope not shaving, messing my hair up, and wearing an old jacket is enough to infiltrate the crowd. No one's capable of more violence than Persons of Diversity and Tolerance, and I don't plan to get hurt in the name of citizen-journalism, if at all possible.