Traffic disruptions around the Palais des Congrès in anticipation of COP15 will begin on November 7th, three weeks before the event which will host the largest police operation in the metropolis in 20 years.
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Between November 7th and 27th, the arteries of Viger, Saint-Antoine, Saint-Urbain and Place Jean-Paul Riopelle will be alternately closed to allow the erection of security fences around the Palais des Congrès. Police officers will also be on site to coordinate the operations.
Once the fences have been erected, one lane will be closed on each of the thoroughfares until the end of the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (COP 15).
“It’s a huge event and planning. It’s complex. Right now we need to make sure that all measures are in place,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spokeswoman Corporal Tasha Adams said during a technical briefing on Wednesday.
From December 1st the security process will be initiated. Police officers from the Integrated Security Group (GIS), which includes staff from the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the RCMP, will be on site 24 hours a day, and will do so until 20.12.
During these three weeks, only people with accreditation can enter the security area.
“There will be an increased police presence to ensure the safety of heads of state, dignitaries and the general public,” Ms Adams said.
In addition to the streets already mentioned, the Place d’Armes metro station will also be closed from December 1st. However, dedicated police officers will be present to secure the station should an emergency stop occur.
On the other hand, the authorities do not intend to close the Ville-Marie tunnel, a scenario conjured up by the official opposition at City Hall before being denied by Valérie Plante’s administration.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 dignitaries are expected for the almost two-week long COP15 from December 7th to 19th.
For the duration of the event, the interior of the Palais des Congrès will be designated as a “blue zone” and supervised by the United Nations (UN). Access via the Montreal subway will also be closed.
Outside, each of the three police forces will have their own responsibilities.
The RCMP will oversee the security of foreign dignitaries who will be present upon their arrival at Montreal Airport, while the SPVM looks after the grounds of the Palais des Congrès. The SQ ensures smooth road connections and coordinates the police forces of various municipal agencies that are on hand.
GIS officials could not confirm whether and which heads of state would be present. Depending on their importance, the dignitaries present are assigned different security levels of up to five. A head of state would thus be entitled to greater supervision than, for example, a minister.
Even if the spokesman for the various police forces did not want to specify the number of emergency services that will be on site, it would be the largest operation in the last 20 years.
At the SPVM alone, the necessary expenditure is estimated at 25 million dollars. This sum will cover the payroll of deployed police officers, most of whom will be working overtime. However, the Canadian government should reimburse these costs at the end of the event.