‘Potential risk’ to GTA prompts increased police presence in Toronto
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 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.