Toronto police stepping up presence at Woodbine Beach this Victoria Day long weekend

Toronto police stepping up presence at Woodbine Beach this Victoria Day long weekend

Toronto police say they will be boosting the number of officers in the Beach neighbourhood this Victoria Day long weekend to ensure a “safe experience” for all.

On Thursday morning, Supt. Kim O’Toole, of 55 Division, spoke in depth about Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) plan for the long weekend for the Ashbridges Bay Park/Woodbine Beach area, most notably the increased police presence on bicycle, on foot, and on ATVs “from one end of the park to the other, from the water to the road.” Members of the mounted unit will also be present, she said.

“We have a significantly increased police presence this year due to previous years where we’ve had some issues,” O’Toole said during a Thursday morning news conference at Woodbine Beach.

“So when people come to the Beach, some people are concerned about the increased police presence and we explain that it is to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy a safe experience while they’re here.”

She also noted that bylaw officers will be working throughout the city over the long weekend to ensure residents respect bylaws, including no bonfires outside city-designated fire pits or loud, amplified music.

Police are also reminding people that it is prohibited to bring personal fireworks to beaches or local parks. People who visit Ashbridges Bay Park/Woodbine Beach should also note that alcohol is not allowed.

“We are hoping for a very, very safe weekend. We’ve worked very hard with our city partners to ensure that everyone coming to be safe,” O’Toole said, adding Toronto paramedics will be on hand in the Toronto Beach area on Monday evening in the event that anyone requires medical attention. Toronto Fire Services will also be in attendance at the east-end fireworks display, she said, reminding everyone to stay far away from the cold waters of Lake Ontario.

Anyone who visits the Beach this weekend, especially those who come down for the fireworks, is being urged to take public transit. Additional TTC buses will be added to both the 22A Coxwell and 92A Woodbine routes.

Drivers should also expect a number of road closures in advance of the fireworks display, including Coxwell Avenue from Lake Shore Blvd East to Eastern Avenue, and Lake Shore from Leslie to Queen Street East.

Police are asking revellers to vacate the area as soon as they can after the event.

Parking enforcement will also be stepped up.

Two years ago, in 2022, the situation at Woodbine Beach/Ashbridges Bay Park over the Victoria Day long weekend descended into bedlam when two people were shot, two others were robbed at gunpoint, and groups of people were shooting fireworks at each other as well as officers and police horses. In the end, seven officers were hurt.

One man also suffered serious injuries after he was stabbed in the back during a fight.

At least 19 charges were laid in connection with the chaotic scene that Staff Supt. Paul MacIntyre said was filled with “crime and disorder.”

However, last year’s Victoria Day festivities in the Beach went off without a hitch, O’Toole noted.

“We had a very, very safe year last year. We had zero arrests. We are hoping to replicate this year,” she said, adding that there were also no injuries or arrests or fines laid in connection with people possessing or selling fireworks in the area.

In 2023, Toronto police significantly stepped up its presence in the east-end neighbourhood. They had officers in riot gear on standby and there were round-the-clock patrols near Lake Shore Boulevard and Woodbine Avenue in case things went “sideways,” Staff Supt. Paul MacIntyre told reporters ahead of last year’s Victoria Day long weekend.

Toronto Police Service (TPS) also deployed more officers in patrol cars, on horseback, motorcycles, bicycles, and on foot than usual to the Toronto Beach area. Bylaw and parking enforcement officers were also out in full force.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Phil Tsekouras.

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