Toronto car­ries on, as po­lice on alert af­ter vague threat

The Niagara Falls Review - - Canada & World - PETER GOF­FIN

TORONTO — 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 Cana­dian 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 of 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.

Michael Barsky

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