Top 5 stories in Ottawa: Aug. 28 to Sept. 3

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A trial date is set for “Freedom Convoy” organizers, an Ottawa man gets his hydro back after eight years, and an Ottawa mayoral candidate’s plan to fund the police.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at the top five stories on our website this week

Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber to face trial in September 2023

Two of the main people behind the “Freedom Convoy” protest that occupied downtown Ottawa last winter will face trial next September.

Tamara Lich and Chris Barber were arrested just one day before a massive police operation to clear demonstrators and vehicles out of the downtown core of Ottawa after a three-week occupation. Both have been charged with mischief, counselling others to commit mischief, and intimidation.

Both are free on bail, though Lich is also facing a charge of failing to comply with her bail conditions after being accused of breaching previous conditions while appearing at an awards ceremony alongside another convoy figure whom she was instructed to have no contact without the presence of counsel.

The trial is expected to start on Sept. 5, 2023 and last about 16 days.

Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, seen during the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa, are facing new charges in relation to the protest. (Twitter/Glen McGregor)

Ottawa man had his hydro turned back on after 8 years

An Ottawa man who had been living off the grid since his hydro was cut off almost nine years ago had his power restored Wednesday.

Bernard Steele was cut off from the grid in 2014 after suffering a heart attack. He had an extended stay in hospital and his power was cut while he was gone. After he returned home, it was never hooked back up. He fought with Hydro Ottawa to get it back but at some point, he simply gave up and decided to try to live without it.

He relied on solar panels to power 12-volt batteries, enough to power up a light when he needs it or play the radio.

A renewed effort to have his hydro restored culminated with CTV News making inquiries to Hydro Ottawa, who reconnected Steele a short time later. Why the utility company did not fully explain why it had taken so long to restore power to Steele’s apartment, a statement ended with Hydro Ottawa saying it was happy his power was back on.

Steele says he’s happy to begin getting his life back together again.

Bernard Steele’s electricity was cut off in 2014 after an extended stay in hospital due to a heart attack. His apartment wasn’t hooked back up until Aug. 31, 2022. (Jeremie Charron/CTV News Ottawa)

St. Brigid’s church owner: ‘The water pistol brigade has to stop’

The owner of a former Ottawa church where a Freedom Convoy-affiliated group remains despite efforts to evict them is calling on members to stop harassing people.

“The water pistol brigade has to stop,” Patrick McDonald said outside the Ottawa courthouse on Friday after a hearing on efforts to evict The United People of Canada from St. Brigid’s church in Lowertown.

McDonald is seeking a court order to enforce the eviction of the group. He says they failed to make $100,000 in payments as part of a conditional sale of the church, owe $10,000 in rent and have broken heritage rules.

He also said members of the group blocked other tenants from accessing parking on the property.

Justice Sally Gomery adjourned the matter until Sept. 19. But she ordered TUPOC members not to impede the bailiff who posted the eviction notice on the door last month, not to harass other tenants or their invitees, and allow people with parking rights to use them.

Patrick McDonald and his lawyer Gordon Douglas are seen following a court hearing over St. Brigid’s church, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe would increase police budget, open station in ByWard Market

Mark Sutcliffe would hire more police officers, open a new station in the ByWard Market and push to install CCTV cameras in an effort to deter crime, the mayoral candidate said Thursday.

Sutcliffe’s plan includes opening a community resource centre in the ByWard Market and adding 100 more positions over four years to address violence against women, hate and bias crime, and gun violence.

He is also specifically targeting Coun. Catherine McKenney, calling them “radical change” and a supporter of defunding the police.

In a statement to CTV News, McKenney suggested their focus as mayor would be to rebuild the public’s trust in police following the ‘Freedom Convoy’ occupation earlier this year.

Along with the mini police station in the ByWard Market, Sutcliffe says he supports the “target, limited use” of CCTV cameras in at-risk areas for “investigative and deterrence purposes.”

Mark Sutcliffe in the ByWard Market on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Chris Black/CTV News Ottawa)

Claridge cancels planned Hintonburg highrise

A planned highrise condo tower that would have redefined the Hintonburg skyline has been cancelled.

The 30-storey Claridge Hintonburg was supposed to be built at 1040 Somerset Street West, a short walk from the Bayview O-Train station.

But developer Claridge is cancelling the project, a victim of high interest rates, inflation and rising construction costs.

Roughly 20 per cent of the building’s 262 units were sold since the project opened in June 2021.

The Claridge Hintonburg, a 30-storey tower that had been planned for Somerset Street West, has been cancelled. (Claridge)

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