VIDEO: Police warn of ‘potential risk’ to Greater Toronto area

GTA increases police presence but would not specify what information they had received

Information about a “potential risk” in the Greater Toronto Area led to an increase in police presence in Toronto’s downtown core on Thursday, but officers insisted the public should not avoid any of the city’s attractions, prompting confusion among some and anxiety in others.

Police would not specify what information they had received, or what their officers were looking for, but said the situation and their response were relatively common occurrences.

“Toronto police received information regarding a potential risk to public safety,” Acting Supt. Michael Barsky told reporters while standing just steps from the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and Ripley’s Aquarium, all of which remained open.

“The police presence in this area is simply to ensure that the public can enjoy and come down to this area unimpeded and without any worry.”

Police had tweeted at 9:30 a.m. that an “unconfirmed, uncorroborated piece of information” about the GTA had led them to boost the number of officers downtown.

Shortly after, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office said it was aware of the “unsubstantiated” report of a potential threat in Toronto, and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tweeted that federal agencies were aware of the situation and ready to help if necessary.

The police tweet sparked anxiety and confusion in several Torontonians.

“I think it’s kind scary because you know there’s a threat but you don’t know what it is,” said Nida Rafiq, who works across from Union Station, adding that she felt “paranoid” because police provided so little information.

Others took to social media to express their nervousness.

“The police aren’t saying anything and scaring… us,” one person tweeted.

Barsky, who spoke at a press conference about two hours after the police tweet, said he “appreciated” comments about the message being vague.

“If we had more specifics or we could provide more specifics we would certainly be forthwith with that,” he said. “I can’t speculate on how people are going to interpret our message.”

At midday, families, tour groups and vendors bustled around the base of the CN Tower. Several passersby said they had not heard anything about the increased police presence. A handful of Emergency Task Force personnel patrolled a nearby, as cruisers parked at multiple intersections.

Despite the confusion surrounding police activity, Kevin Manol, 43, said he was not worried.

“It’s just another day in Toronto,” he said, as he stood down the street from the CN Tower.

North of the city, there was also a heavy police presence at Canada’s Wonderland and other parts of York Region, in what officers referred to as a precautionary measure.

“We are working closely with our emergency service partners across the GTA as we investigate and respond to the information we have received,” Const. Laura Nicolle said. “We encourage the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police.”

Thursday’s events came just over two months after a van mounted a sidewalk in north Toronto and plowed into pedestrians in its path, killing 10 and injuring 16. Alek Minassian, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. His case remains before the courts, with the next date set for September.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Tent city break-up leaves mobile clinic seeking Greater Victoria’s homeless

Clinic nurse has witnessed rise in sex work, drug use following tent city disbandment

Questions remain following Friday crash

Questions remain following Friday’s dramatic crash on Sooke Road. The three-vehicle incident… Continue reading

B.C. SPCA Wild ARC seeking donations to replace roofs

Donations made to the roof campaign will be matched up to $10,000

Final push to fund new ultrasounds at Victoria hospitals

Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s Beneath the Surface campaign nears goal of $500,000

VIDEO: Surveillance camera catches Sooke Rd crash

New details emerge into crash that sent three people to hospital

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Admitting mistakes is the first step

On Friday afternoon a dramatic three-vehicle crash took place on Highway, an… Continue reading

Province announces 74 new French teaching spots at SFU, UBC

Needed to fill demand for increasingly popular French immersion programs in B.C.

Saanich mayoral candidates in middle of legal dispute prepare for first face off

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes will be among four mayoral candidates Thursday’s forum

B.C. Rural Party co-founder rebukes pro-NDP accusation

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen disputes being NDP campaign supporter

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Most Read