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

First Nations also worried about northern B.C. natural gas pipeline challenge

They already have contracts lined up should project proceed

Burns Lake area wildfires contained, but still burning

Smouldering ground fires and smoke still expected in the coming weeks

Indigenous youth ski program in Northwest gets funding

Olympian Beckie Scott was in Witset and Hazelton for first time last year.

Gak 4 Cops for Cancer

The Gitwangak team raised over $10,700 for pediatric cancer research and Camp Goodtimes.

North BC Ale Trail features Smithers

After filming in Smithers in July, North BC Ale Trail is ready to sell a trip to the Bulkley Valley.

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Misspelling B.C. toddler’s plane ticket leaves travel agent on the hook for $1100

Mom and toddler couldn’t get on flight from Iran to Vancouver

Tempering the B.C. cannabis legalization ‘gold rush’

Retail selling of marijuana offers potential business opportunities and pitfalls

B.C. cancer patient’s case exposes gaps in care for homeless people: advocates

Terry Willis says he’s praying for a clean, safe place to live to undergo the cancer treatments he needs after he was denied chemotherapy because he lives in a Victoria homeless shelter.

Trump boasts of America’s might, gets laugh at UN

President Donald Trump received an unexpected laugh at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

Salvage of grounded Haida Gwaii barge to begin as emergency command post closes

The barge and lodge broke away from their moorings in high winds on Sept. 8 and ran aground.

Federal use of A.I. in visa applications could breach human rights, report says

Impacts of automated decision-making involving immigration applications and how errors and assumptions could lead to “life-and-death ramifications”

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Most Read