Traffic started flowing again on the Ambassador Bridge on Monday after a six-day protest closed the international crossing between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit.
Shortly after midnight, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced that “normal operations” had resumed at one of the country’s busiest border crossings.
Protesters against pandemic restrictions had blocked the main exit and entrance to the bridge for nearly a week. Police cleared the protesters and the vehicles were towed away on Sunday.
Early Monday morning, US Customs and Border Protection tweeted a photo of the first transport truck capable of crossing.
“I want to thank the unified coalition of business leaders and organizations representing workers on both sides of the border for coming together to address this issue,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Monday. in a press release.
“And I appreciate the U.S. and Canadian governments for hearing Michigan’s concerns loud and clear and stepping up to reopen the bridge.”
A heavy police presence remained in the area Monday along Huron Church Road – the main traffic corridor to the bridge – to ensure protesters did not return to block the roadway.
“There could be a cat and mouse situation for a little while,” Windsor Police Chief Pam Mizuno told reporters on Sunday.
Mizuno said police were ready to deal with any further attempts to block off the area. About 25 to 30 people were arrested and charged with mischief on Sunday as police cleared protesters.
Access to intersections along Huron Church Road is restricted on Monday, presumably to ensure protesters cannot enter the area.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said Monday that the nearly week-long closure of the Ambassador Bridge has cost the economy an estimated $3 billion.
“You have families who work for the Big 3 [automakers], many of them in Windsor, have been sent home. … So there is an impact and repercussions throughout the community. But I’m happy today that the bridge is open and the police are in control,” Dilkens told CBC. Windsor Morning.
“It’s a crucial piece of infrastructure that is the Ambassador Bridge and we need to do everything we can to keep that route open until this so-called Freedom Convoy is sorted out.”
Police evacuate protesters on Sunday
Police handed out flyers to protesters on Friday, notifying them of a province-wide state of emergency declared by Premier Doug Ford due to a number of protests in Ontario. Later that afternoon, an Ontario Superior Court judge granted an injunction restraining protesters from blocking traffic to the Ambassador Bridge.
On Friday evening, groups of protesters moved into the area of the bridge. Police continued to patrol the area until Sunday morning when a final push to clear protesters began.
Protesters slowly packed up their belongings and moved cars and trucks parked along the road blocking access to the bridge.
Officers from Windsor, London, Ont., provincial police and RCMP remained at the former protest site on Monday.
The mayor of Windsor said the city “will ask for every penny we have committed” to higher levels of government for costs associated with policing.
Compensation for business owners and others affected by the bridge blockage is something NDP Provincial Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath called for when she visited Windsor on Monday.
“[Premier] Doug Ford can actually do that, he can really help address the fact that ordinary people here in Windsor, Ontario, and in southern Ontario have really paid the price for this blockade,” she said. during a press briefing.
Horwath suggested the Prime Minister “cut the cheques” for autoworkers who have been made redundant due to parts shortages caused by the blockade, as well as people in the food industry and small businesses.
The Leader of the Opposition criticized Ford for “taking his time” to act during the protest against the bridge and others across Ontario.
“Things like this can’t go on for days and days, they need to be dealt with quickly before people dig in… Because it didn’t happen, we’ve seen a lot of casualties here,” he said. she stated.
Also on Monday, Ontario announced it will scrap the province’s proof-of-vaccination system starting March 1, and other restrictions will be eased by the end of the week.
“Today’s announcement is not because of what is happening in Ottawa or Windsor, but despite it,” Ford said. “We are moving forward as a province and a country, and this chaos will not be tolerated, I promise you that.”
Horwath said it appears the Prime Minister is “giving in” to protesters demanding an easing of restrictions.