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Security measures increased in Toronto following Ottawa soldier shooting

Toronto Emergency Task Force officers positioned outside Queen's Park on Oct. 22, 2014. 680NEWS/Kevin Misener

Security measures are being taken in Toronto after a soldier was shot and killed at the War Memorial near Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Chief Bill Blair said Torontonians will see a “very visible” police presence at public institutions and in public spaces.

He has deployed more officers to Queen’s Park, city hall, courthouses, consulates, government and military facilities and the subway system.

He said the measures are being taken because of an “abundance of caution”

“If you see something that concerns you … or anything suspicious, don’t hesitate to call and we will respond,” Blair said.

“We all remain firm in our resolve to keep our citizens and communities safe.”

In a tweet, TTC chair Maria Augimeri said the transit commission has taken “immediate steps to review and heighten its security awareness and vigilance levels.”

The TTC has increased visibility of transit enforcement officers on subway trains and buses, TTC spokesperson Brad Ross told 680News’ Charlene Close. Security personnel will also step up perimeter checks and other non-public entries into the system, including subway tunnels, garages and carhouses.

“We’ve heightened the vigilance and we did this in fact two weeks ago as a result of statements made by a terrorist organization,” Ross said.

Ross added “there have been no credible threats made to the TTC at this time, but we are taking precautions given the events of the last 48 hours.”

At Toronto City Hall, spokesperson Jackie DeSouza said, “All I can say at this point is that we are reviewing security protocols and working with our law enforcement partners to determine if any changes are required.”

In a statement, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said he is working with city manager Joe Pennachetti and Blair to make sure security measures and protocols are being followed.

Parliament Hill was locked down after a soldier standing guard at the memorial was shot just before 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Shots were also fired inside the Parliament Hill building, Ottawa police said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was rushed away from the building to an undisclosed location, officials in his office said.

Harper was expected to be in Toronto to present Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai with an honorary Canadian citizenship at a ceremony, ahead of taking part in an event on women’s rights, along with Yousafzai, at Central Technical School.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Harper’s public events in Toronto have been cancelled, and that he will address the shootings on Wednesday evening.

Over at Queen’s Park, Hugh McGreechan, director of the Legislative Security Service said security measures have been enhanced “for the precinct as a precaution.”

“There is no known threat to our location at this time and building activities will continue as normal,” the statement read.

Police told 680News reporter Kevin Misener that Toronto Emergency Task Force officers have been positioned in front of Ontario Legislature — pickup truck and an SUV, two officers in each vehicle.

He said he also saw increased security at Queen’s Park security, as well as officers patrolling the grounds. Security officers at Queen Park have been posted outside and inside each entrance.

However, the legislature building has not been locked down, and school groups and tourist tours continue to take place.

MPPs appear to be conducting legislative business as usual, despite the shooting incident in Ottawa.

“There were some suggestions that perhaps we should suspend Question Period,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said during the session.

“Our belief is that people who are using violence to undermine democracy want us to be silenced, and we refuse to be silenced.”

In a statement, Wynne said “we all have to be very careful, we have to be vigilant.

“And the authorities are very aware of the situation. Our Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services has been in contact with the authorities. I have asked him to give legislature an update. And then he will leave the House and he will continue to work with the authorities. But we will carry on with the business of this House and the business of our democratic society.”

The CBC reports Canadian Forces bases have been closed to the public.

There will also be extra security measure in place at the Air Canada Centre for Wednesday night’s pre-season game between the Toronto Raptors and Maccabi Haifa.

With files from reporters Charlene Close, Carl Hanstke, Kevin Misener, and The Canadian Press