Be alert and safe during Canada 150
Police taking all-hands-ondeck approach to security
Be alert but not alarmed, police are urging Canadians who will congregate under the Peace Tower next month for Canada 150 celebrations — a massive public gathering for which intelligence agencies and emergency teams have spent months preparing.
Experts are well aware of what is at stake on July 1, especially in the wake of the deadly shootings that erupted on Parliament Hill in 2014.
“When you’re talking about (Canada) 150, you’re talking about bringing a number of Canadians together,” said Terence Chase, a former Canadian Forces soldier and director of B.C.-based security consultants Defense Intelligence Service.
“It is exactly the target-rich environment that (attackers) are looking for.”
Ottawa police Supt. Joan McKenna, who oversees planning for Canada Day events, said officers in the national capital will take an all-hands-on-deck security approach that will include everything from canine units to carbines and long guns.
“We can’t control everything,” McKenna said in an interview.
“What we can control is that there is strong communication between the federal intelligence agencies, the RCMP and our Ottawa police intelligence section.”
The public should be vigilant, but not afraid, she added.
“There’s lots of eyes and ears out there — not just the police but there’s the public ... city workers, anyone part of emergency planning,” McKenna said.
Emergency personnel will also be deploying special resources in order to effectively navigate the security envelope, said Marc-Antoine Deschamps, superintendent of public information with the Ottawa Paramedic Service.
“If there’s limited vehicle access to a location, that means that our ambulances cannot go there so what it means is we have to find alternative ways of transporting our patients out of some areas,” Deschamps said.
Paramedics will use golf cartsized vehicles to more easily navigate the crowds, and stretcher teams will be deployed when necessary to carry patients from dense areas toward transport vehicles.
Paramedics will also be riding bikes through the precinct, he added.
“We have a picture dating back years that has an ambulance trying to drive down Wellington,” he said, referring to the busy, tourist-jammed street that runs right along the edge of the Parliament Hill grounds.
there’s lots of eyes and ears out there. Joan McKenna