By ALAN SHACKLETON
Toronto police say they will be deploying a “variety of resources” to ensure public safety in the Woodbine Beach area this upcoming Victoria Day long weekend.
“Although we do not share detailed information about our operational plans, we can tell you that there are a variety of units across the (Toronto Police) Service working with our city partners on community safety plans for the Victoria Day long weekend,” said Toronto police in response to questions last week from Beach Metro Community News.
“We expect large crowds and we want to assure the public there is a policing plan in place to support the city, with public safety at the forefront,” said police.
The past two Victoria Day long weekends have seen huge crowds in the Woodbine Beach and Ashbridges Bay Park area and numerous incidences of rowdy and violent behaviour. Last year, on the Sunday night leading into the holiday Monday morning, large groups of young people flooded into the area after being encouraged to do so by social media posts. Fireworks were being used as weapons as groups were firing them back and forth at each other, at buildings in the area, at passing vehicles and at police. By the time the dust had settled, seven police officers had been injured, a shooting and a stabbing reported, two armed robberies at gunpoint and multiple people arrested.
An area resident called the night “horrific”. Further adding to last year’s frustration by residents was that similar, though not as bad behaviour, had taken place on two previous long weekends (including Victoria Day) in 2021.
After the violence of last year’s Victoria Day, police put in a large and visible presence in the Woodbine Beach area for the Canada Day long weekend and there was not a repeat of the bad behaviour and violent incidents.
As is usual, except for the COVID-19 cancellations for 2020 and 2021, the annual Victoria Day fireworks display will be taking place at Ashbridges Bay on the night of Monday, May 22. This event always bring large crowds to the area as well.
Police told Beach Metro Community News that officers will be present in the area for the entire long weekend.
“A variety of resources will be in the area from Friday, May 19, to Monday, May 22, to ensure everyone can safely enjoy events in the Ashbridges Bay area. This will include our Mounted Unit, and officers on foot, ATVs and bikes. Fire services and EMS personnel will also be in attendance.”
Police said they will monitoring the situation in the area on a constant basis over the long weekend and will make adjustments to their safety plans as needs be.
“We will be closely monitoring security issues and will make the appropriate adjustments to mitigate any potential risks to public safety. If there is a threat to public safety, or obstruction of officers or other emergency services, officers will use their discretion – depending on what is safe in the moment – to disperse or lay charges. If appropriate, we may also continue to investigate and make arrests or lay charges after an event has concluded,” said police.
“We want everyone to celebrate safely and responsibly.”
Parking enforcement in and around Woodbine Beach and beyond will also be stepped up over the long weekend, police said, and road closures should be expected. “Drivers can expect traffic delays due to road closures in the area on Sunday and Monday, including Lake Shore Boulevard East, and parking will be restricted,” said police.
Those attending events in the area over the long weekend, and especially Monday night’s fireworks display, are advised to take public transit.
Police are also reminding people that alcohol is not permitted in public parks. People attending the fireworks display on Monday, or on other days/nights during the long weekend, are also being reminded by police that the lighting of fires and personal fireworks is not permitted in city parks or beaches. Violators can be fined and have their fireworks/alcohol seized.
There are multiple City of Toronto signs at the entrances to the Woodbine Beach area explaining the rules regarding the use of alcohol and personal fireworks in public parks and beaches.
The official fireworks display presented by the City of Toronto is at 10 p.m. on Monday, May 22, in Ashbridges Bay Park. It can be viewed from sites all along the Beach and is expected to last approximately 13 minutes.
Did you enjoy this article? Become a Beach Metro Community News Supporter today! For 50 years, we have worked hard to be the eyes and ears in your community, inform you of upcoming events, and let you know what and who is making a difference. We cover the big stories as well as the little things that often matter the most. CLICK HERE to support your Beach Metro Community News!