Police brace for possible fireworks wars and crowds during Victoria Day celebrations

The Toronto Police Service (TPS) will be increasing its presence at Ashbridges Bay Park/Woodbine Beach this Victoria Day long weekend to ensure everyone is safe.

In a news conference on Thursday morning, Superintendent Kim O’Toole of 55 Division said police will particularly be stepping up their presence via bicycles, foot patrols, and on ATVs in the beach area. Members of the mounted unit will also be present.

“We have increased police presence that will be down here so we suggest that if you are coming to the beach for the fireworks, you take [the] TTC. Our partners at [the] TTC have a significant number of extra buses on two routes that will be in operation to move people in and out quickly from the beach after the fireworks are completed,” O’Toole said at the press conference, adding that the police will have significantly more patrols this year due to incidents that took place over Victoria Day weekend in previous years.

Last year, no arrests were made—which the police are hoping to replicate this year—but in 2022, two people were shot, two people were robbed at gunpoint, and fireworks ‘wars’ erupted between crowds, with groups of people shooting fireworks at each other as well as at officers and police horses.

“For many, people don’t understand that they can’t bring their own fireworks. They don’t understand the dangers of shooting fireworks off at each other, so in those incidents, we address it with public education,” O’Toole said.

She added that some people may be concerned about the increased police presence at the beach, but she confirms that it is just to ensure that everyone can enjoy a safe experience while celebrating.

Toronto Police are reminding people not to bring their own fireworks to beaches or parks—anyone who sets off their personal fireworks at the beach/park will receive a $1000 bylaw fine. Although people can drink booze in other city parks, alcohol isn’t permitted at Ashbridges Bay Park/Woodbine Beach. Music must be played at a reasonable level, but DJs aren’t allowed to set up their equipment in the parking lot.

“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 that EMS officials and Toronto Fire Services will also be present.

The fireworks at Ashbridges Bay Park will start at 10 p.m. on Monday. Police are urging people to leave the area as soon as the fireworks are over.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO