Toronto is getting ready to welcome tens of thousands of visitors to the city – and play host to a local crowd – for the biggest weekend of the annual Peek’s Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
As was the case with other major events in the city and country this year, security is at the top of everyone’s minds, including festival organizers.
“We live in a different environment now, there’s lots happening around the world,” said Chris Alexander, chief administrative officer for the festival mnagement committee, told CityNews on Thursday.
Though Alexander says Canada is considered a low risk for threats, it hasn’t stopped the festival from putting a series of security measures in place, similar to ones we’ve already seen at other events this year.
Last week, CityNews told you about the new security protocols the city has rolled out to protect crowds, following a series of horrific acts of violence that have claimed lives in London, Berlin and Nice. A Toronto Police spokesperson also told reporter Adrian Ghobrial that there will be more officers at large scale events in the city.
During Canada 150 celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square, large trucks were parked around the border of the square. They formed a safety perimeter, to protect people from vehicles attempting to plow through. A similar tactic was used during Pride.
]We are taking the identical similar measures, moving gates, [parking] large trucks, making sure there’s no ability for people to ram crowds” Alexander said.
“We’ve done a lot with security forces, the police, and emergency services. We have to make sure not only is the parade is safe, but the people who come.”
Toronto Police wouldn’t comment on specific security arrangements set for this weekend, but say they are involved. Paid duty officers will be at all carnival events, though organizers say getting enough of them to work at the Grand Parade this weekend has been a challenge.
“They have to secure the entire city, people leave and go to so many fetes and so many places,” Alexander said. “They go in a number of directions and we need police to take care of that also, we need them to secure the whole city.”
Click here for a list of Toronto police road closures for the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, and click here for a list of alternate TTC routes.
Safety tips from Toronto police:
- Mind your belongings, especially in large crowds
- Consumption of alcohol in public places, without a liquor licence, is against the law
- Organizers of the Caribbean Carnival Parade will be erecting barriers along the parade route. They are there for the safety of participants and spectators; and to ensure the parade moves seamlessly throughout the city.
- The Toronto Police Service will issue updates to the public, if necessary, through the media and through social media channels (especially on the #TOCarnival hashtag)
- Members of the public should follow @TorCarnival for timely updates and the latest Carnival-related news and information.
There’s another security concern, and it comes from the police union. CityNews learned Thursday that frontline police officers are in the midst of a job action, by purposely delaying response calls as a means to protest Chief Mark Saunders first major overhaul of the force in decades.
A TPS spokesperson would only say, “Chief Saunders has made it clear that public safety will not be affected.”
Alexander says he doesn’t believe this will impact the weekend’s events, as they are working closely with the force and officers have already been present at many of this month’s events.
“I think people love this parade, I think the police want to make sure that this continues to be great for the city,” he said. “I have not seen any hint of that stuff happening, we’ve had a number events so far and they’ve been there.”