Participants in the Coast Capital living flag initiative gather on the lawns of the legislature in 2016. This year’s rendition sees red and white T-shirts available for pickup starting at noon on July 1, with the mass photo taken at 2 p.m. Victoria News file photo

Victoria police prepping for Canada Day celebrations

Additional buses added, road closures in effect Friday and Saturday

The Victoria Police Department is beefing up security for the Canada 150 festivities downtown this weekend.

Officers and reserve constables will be out Friday (June 30) and Saturday (July 1) patrolling in and around the Inner Harbour during the Spirit of 150 Victoria celebrations, which include musical performances, a family zone and food village.

“It’s a safe, fun, family event. We’re going to be working to make sure that’s the case,” said VicPD civilian spokesperson, Bowen Osoko. “It really is a chance to celebrate some of the things that make Canada, Canada.”

Officers from the Oak Bay and Saanich departments, plus West Shore RCMP, will provide onsite assistance while the Capital Regional District’s Integrated Road Safety Unit will be watching for drinking and driving.

In addition, police will install temporary cameras in public spaces, which will be taken down following the events.

Osoko said the department has monitored various incidents around the world and are confident in the security plans for the event, which is expected to draw thousands to the downtown core for the final two days of Canada 150 festivities.

“We’re really aware of mitigating the concerns people have about the safety of these types of events,” he said. “We actively plan our approaches to these events based on what’s happening in the world, based on realities happening all around the globe … We’re doing all we can to keep people safe.”

Last year on Canada Day, police received 156 calls and made 22 arrests. There were roughly two dozen reports of public intoxication, and fights or assaults. Police also conducted a number of alcohol pour outs. VicPD encourages anyone who sees anything suspicious during the festivities to call 911, tell an officer or use #VicPDhelps on Twitter.

Transit schedule adjusted for Canada Day weekend

BC Transit will add buses as needed on June 30 and Canada Day, which includes buses standing by along the Douglas Street corridor to depart from downtown after the fireworks on July 1. Some bus routes will run later; the last buses will leave downtown Victoria between 1:15 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Alcohol will not be permitted on city buses. For details on service adjustments visit bctransit.com.

There will also be a number of road closures downtown and around the Inner Harbour on Friday, June 30, between 4:30 and 11 p.m., as well as Saturday, July 1 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Visit victoria.ca for full details.

Activities aplenty this Canada Day weekend 

Leading up to Canada Day, which this year celebrates the country’s sesquicentennial, concerts and other performances have been taking place nightly at Ship Point. Headlining this year’s main stage concerts on the lawns of the legislature are Tegan and Sara (Friday, 8:30 p.m.) and the Arkells (Saturday, 9:15 p.m.).

Delhi2Dublin, Rococode and Carmanah precede Tegan and Sara on Friday, while other acts scheduled for Saturday include Funk Hunters, En Karma, De Temps Antan and Dirty Mountain. A family zone is available on the lawn from noon to 5 p.m. both days, as is an international food village on a closed-off Belleville Street (in front of the legislature) from noon until dusk.

The annual fireworks display is scheduled to start at 10:20 p.m.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com