Regina Police open traffic to motorists on 9th Avenue North

Regina Police have removed police officers and vehicles that were positioned around the refinery.

The decision came down on Thursday night after traffic and pedestrian flow was limited on 9th Avenue North between McDonald Street and Winnipeg Street since February 7.

Chief of Police Evan Bray told media on Friday morning that the move was to take over a portion of the road to allow free access to the refinery for trucks. It was a balanced move that also created a space for picketers to stop vehicles for 10 minutes with the removal of blockades at access points around the complex.

Bray said the decision allowed the dispute to calm down and eventually led to police pulling away from the area.

“We were waiting for a court order that came down this week, which I think gave more clarity to the situation,” he explained.

“While we did spend a week at 24/7 up there with our officers, we tried to limit the number of resources so it wouldn’t have an impact on the day-to-day work we do in our community.”

Bray admitted it was the right time to re-open 9th Avenue North after he feels tensions have reduced before the two sides begin the mediation process next week.

He talked about three stages that describe what officers dealt with when they were set up at the intersections, including frustration and anger.

“Our officers were faced with a lot of really negative comments hoping to get a response from our officers. Thankfully our officers remained professional and didn’t.”

Part two of their experience at the refinery was the case where no one would talk to police. He noted how officers would try to engage in conversations, but they wouldn’t get anything back.

However after reading the latest reports from Thursday night’s activity before members moved out of the area, Bray said police had “very positive” interactions with both Unifor members and Co-op management.

Bray mentioned that it hasn’t been an easy balance for RPS with the labour dispute, recent homicides and overdoses, but he added that he couldn’t be more proud of his staff’s efforts throughout the past couple months.

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