It isn't even 1:00 PM, and Toronto's already in a state of chaos over a frightening announcement from the police service about a potential security threat in the city. Police presence is being ramped up throughout the downtown core today, after information about a risk to public safety came in sometime this morning.
Not to freak you out even more, but if you're going to be downtown this afternoon you'll most likely hear a string of gunshots - 21 to be exact. Just after 11:00 AM, police released a public notification about a 21-gun salute, which has been scheduled for 1:40 PM today.
Public Notification: there will be a 21 guns salute at queens park at approximately 1:40 this afternoon. No need for concern. I will tweet this again as it gets closer to that time. ^gl— Toronto Police OPS (@TPSOperations) July 12, 2018
The timing couldn't be worse, considering the entire city is already on edge from today's announcement. But, the TPS says that there's "no need for concern," as the 21-gun salute is a customary tradition that's performed on special occasions.
The salute involves firing 21 rounds of cannons or artillery to honour the military. Which is certainly meaningful and important. But, people aren't happy that it's happening today of all days.
Here's footage of a 21-gun salute in Toronto's Queens Park, from February of this year:
"Do you not think this will cause panic downtown for those who heard your vague news conference but won’t get the chance to hear your warning about the 21 gun salute?! Can we honestly not do this some other time?!" asks a panicked Torontonian.
"This probably isn’t a good idea given the public safety situation today," another person says, "People are already concerned, the sound of gunshots is not going to make them feel any safer. Just saying."
Many people are urging the police service to cancel or postpone the 21-gun salute until today's safety threat is resolved. But in fact, the salute has absolutely nothing to do with the police. The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario is giving the "Speech from the Throne" at Queen’s Park today, to open Ontario's Session of the 42nd Parliament.
The Canadian government announced the event yesterday, along with a press release saying that the salute will include only 15 gunshots, instead of the customary 21.
The timing isn't exactly perfect, but at least there's no reason to panic.