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

Coastal GasLink gets interim injunction against Unist’ot’en

The LNG pipeline company can start work Monday with enforcement approved by court.

Smithers Christmas Bird Count

Time to register for the annual bird count, an effort done across the hemisphere.

They’re engaged!

Birthday party turns into engagement party for Doug and Matilda

Hampers a chance to help in the Christmas spirit

SCSA sends around 350-400 hampers to the area from Witset to Telkwa.

Volunteers create Christmas magic at Santa’s Breakfast

PHOTOS: For the past 19 years, a local event helped remind us that Christmas is a time of giving.

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

‘I practically begged’: Kootenay woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

Most Read