Toronto police say there will be specific parking areas meant for people attending a planned demonstration at Queen’s Park.
“We are going to strongly encourage areas where people can stage vehicles, where they will cause minimal disruption,” said Chief James Ramer at a conference Friday. “If their intention is to demonstrate, they can travel by foot or public transit to Queen’s Park and they can demonstrate in-person. But vehicles will not be congregating around Queen’s Park.”
There is no small amount of uncertainty surrounding Saturday’s event, which is being organized over social media. The event appears to be aligned, at least ideologically, with the demonstrations disrupting traffic and social services in Ottawa’s downtown core.
Some hospitals, including Sick Kids and Mount Sinai, are delaying appointments in response.
Police have already closed roads around Queen’s Park and nearby hospitals. However, hospital workers, patients and family members will still be allowed through.
“Anyone who attempts to disrupt hospital access and routes of emergency operations, including ambulance, fire or police will be subject to strict enforcement,” said Ramer.
There will be a greater number of officers in the area, and in other parts of the city, than usual. These officers will have their body-worn cameras on.
“We know the increased presence of uniformed police officers can be unsettling, but we want to reassure the public that we are doing everything we can to keep our city safe and secure,” said Staff Superintendent Lauren Pogue, who did not specify how many more officers will be on-hand.
As well, new CCTV cameras are being installed in the area. “We are prepared to monitor events across the city 24/7 and deploy additional resources if necessary,” said Pogue.
“These events are always fluid and dynamic, and we will be doing our best to respond quickly and to communicate any important information to the public on a timely basis,” said Ramer, who noted the police’s approach could change in real-time.
“I can’t speak to specific strategies, nor will I, frankly,” Ramer said. “We are examining a number of contingencies and we will adapt to adjust what we’re presented with.”
Ramer asked the public to stay away from the area, and use public transit if need be.
“We all want to do everything we can to avoid the situation that we’re seeing in Ottawa,” said Mayor John Tory. “If anyone is planning to come here for a protest that is not peaceful and that is not respectful, I would urge you on behalf of all Toronto residents and businesses to please stay home. ‘Peaceful and respectful’ is the way we do things here.”