(OTTAWA) U.S. President Joe Biden and his wife Jill have not yet arrived in Ottawa, but the streets and skies of the federal capital were showing signs Wednesday of the security presence residents can expect for the first US presidential visit in seven years.

The couple are expected in Ottawa on Thursday for Mr. Biden’s first official visit to Canada since taking office in the White House in January 2021. The Bidens will also spend the night in the federal capital.

In downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, about 20 police vehicles surrounded the area as American flags hung near the official office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the main street that runs along Parliament Hill. Meanwhile, municipal employees were busy setting up barricades to prepare for the visit.

Ottawa has not hosted a US president since June 2016, when Barack Obama came to the capital for the North American Leaders Summit near the end of his second term.

His successor, Republican Donald Trump, never came to Ottawa during his term, from 2017 to 2021. He attended the 2018 G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Charlevoix.

President Biden’s official visit will obviously take place under close surveillance. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) says security for President Biden and his wife Jill will be provided by an “integrated unit” of various services.

The RCMP claims to be working with the Canadian military, the American secret services, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Parliamentary Protective Service, as well as with municipal police officers in Ottawa and Gatineau, on the other side of the Ottawa River.

Former Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau was superintendent on Barack Obama’s first official trip in 2009. He points out that careful planning was always required on every presidential visit, but the fact that the Bidens spend a night in Ottawa will require even more resources.

Bordeleau said in an interview that Ottawa police were given two months’ notice in 2009 for President Obama’s visit. “This planning must be done in a collegial manner and in collaboration with the multitude of partners, not only here in Canada, but also with the American secret service,” explained Mr. Bordeleau.

“This is a very resource-intensive event, due to the number of officers needed to deal with the protection of the surroundings, the management of traffic and the buildings that the president can visit. »

During this visit of President Obama in 2009, which had seen thousands of people invade the lawns in front of Parliament Hill, the American president had surprised more than one by taking a detour with his motorcade towards the ByWard Market, while close, to taste a “beaver tail”, this fried pastry coated in sugar.

He had also returned to Washington with three maple leaf sugar cookies for his family, after an impromptu visit to a local bakery.

Ottawa police have warned residents of an increased police presence throughout the week as large parking lots are turned into staging areas for officers.

The Armed Forces and National Defense also confirmed that they would provide aviation security during Mr. Biden’s visit.

“Residents of the National Capital Region may see or hear NORAD CF-18 Hornet fighter jets and CH-146 Griffon helicopters over the region beginning Wednesday…and throughout the tour” , National Defense warned in a recent press release. The department added that pilots of civil aircraft should check flight restrictions in the area with NAV Canada.

The City of Ottawa has also warned residents to expect major arterial closures downtown and around the airport, where the presidential motorcade will pass.