Police presence beefed up in Toronto after unspecified threat

Officers from the Toronto Police Service Mounted Unit are deployed at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto was under heavier-than-usual police protection on Thursday because of a “potential risk to safety” in Canada’s largest city, police said without providing details.

Heightened security, including emergency response teams, was visible around tourist sites such as the CN Tower and a nearby aquarium in downtown Toronto. The city’s police said the increased presence was due to an “unconfirmed, uncorroborated piece of information” related to the Greater Toronto Area.

“Toronto police received information regarding a potential risk to public safety,” Acting Superintendent Michael Barsky told reporters. “Whenever we have a report of a potential risk, we take that seriously.”

In April, a Canadian man plowed a rental van into pedestrians on a crowded Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people in Canada’s deadliest mass killing in decades.

Global News, citing an unnamed source, said a memo sent to a group of Toronto officers instructed police to monitor the area surrounding the CN Tower for threats of a vehicle attack.

Toronto police did not confirm details of the memo, saying in a tweet that “this was a draft operational plan that was never approved.”

A spokesman for U-Haul said the Ontario Provincial Police contacted the company, alongside other rental companies, on Wednesday “with a request to remain vigilant in reporting suspicious activity in the Toronto area.”

Security has also been ramped up in Toronto suburbs, with Peel Regional Police patrolling near Canada’s Wonderland, an amusement park that is another major tourist attraction.

Also on Thursday, Toronto’s mayor and police chief announced a plan to combat a recent spate of gun violence in the city.

Reporting by Jenna Zucker; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney