Toronto residents question safety of Woodbine Beach after violent Victoria Day fireworks
Another Victoria Day long weekend has come and gone in Toronto, leaving behind countless sauce-covered napkins, empty beer cans and terrifying memories for those who went to check out the fireworks at Woodbine Beach.
Back in an official capacity for the first time since 2019, the city's annual May 2-4 weekend fireworks display drew thousands of people out to Woodbine Beach and Ashbridges Bay Park on Monday evening.
Police say that crowds were "largely peaceful" last night, with only one stabbing, one firearm and five arrests reported. No officers were injured during the city's official 2022 Victoria Day fireworks show on Monday, but the same can't be said for an unofficial version of the event that took place on Sunday.
Yesterday evening, it was terrifying, shocking & horrific after a shooting & a stabbing near Woodbine Beach in #toronto @TorontosMayor @fordnation @JustinTrudeau Immediate solutions are needed regarding …— Liam Murphy (@LiamMur82928887) May 23, 2022
Lives are at risk! pic.twitter.com/MChtdcRiG2
At least 19 people have been arrested in connection with widespread violence at Woodbine Beach on Sunday evening, where two people were shot, one person was stabbed, two were robbed at gunpoint and seven police officers were injured.
A great deal of people who responded to the incident say they weren't surprised at all, however, by what happened at Woodbine Beach on Sunday night. They've seen it before, more and more of it in recent years, to the point where some now avoid the area entirely on holiday weekends.
Last Canada day I saw people shooting fireworks into crowds, horizontally, and at each other there, with all of 4 police officers for the entire beach, can't say i'm surprised, It was genuinely scary and I like fireworks— Belteguese Boötes (@BeltegueseOrion) May 24, 2022
"Woodbine Beach on Victoria Day weekend is never worth it," wrote one local in response to a tweet from police on May 22.
"I thought not going to Woodbine Beach on holidays was common sense now," wrote another.
"My best friend and I were talking earlier about how we use to go to Woodbine Beach 11-12 years ago on this weekend and how fun it was," lamented one Twitter user following the night of chaos. "Like wtf is the point of all that f*ckery last night? I swear kids getting dumber and dumber as the generations go by."
Since I was a teenager, probably even before that… there’s been shootings at Woodbine Beach on May 24.— WESTND FREE (@FreeAt_Last) May 24, 2022
This is common knowledge.
While the City of Toronto does allow people to set off fireworks without a permit on May 2-4 weekend and Canada Day, it is never legal to aim and shoot fireworks directly at other people — especially cops.
According to Toronto Police Insp. Jeff Bassingwaithe, one officer was struck directly in the face by a firework on Sunday night at Woodbine Beach, sustaining serious injuries to his eyes and ears.
Two more officers were left with burns and ear injuries after fireworks were thrown at them, and another officer broke their leg while chasing a shooting suspect.
The city's rules also stipulate that you can only set off fireworks on private property (your own). Setting off fireworks in city parks or beaches can land you a fine of $600.
In light of what happened on Sunday, some community members are wondering if current enforcement efforts at Woodbine Beach and Ashbridges Bay Park are sufficient.
"Sounds like those private security companies patrolling public Toronto parks for homeless encampments should patrol Ashbridges Bay/Woodbine Beach and more serious matters instead," wrote one.
Toronto Police have done nothing for YEARS about the growing normalization of nighttime violence at Woodbine Beach.— AL.Content (@alcontent416) May 24, 2022
Suddenly, election time hits and it's time to clean up the streets.
Get real. https://t.co/hgnpMPNTbs
People who live in The Beaches neighbourhood are seriously fed up after yet another year of madness.
"Staying locked in our homes afraid to leave our homes for fear of the firework mayhem going on right outside our doors is no way for us to live. This has to stop!" wrote one Facebook user on Monday following the Woodbine Beach incidents. "The ban of private fireworks would be a good place to start."
"Every year more violence comes to the Beaches from city dwellers on holiday weekends. This will change what was a fun and beautiful event to shutting it down due to, yes this horror," wrote another. "As a beacher I won't go near the beach and Queen Street area tonight."
If The Purge and the Thunderdome had a love child, it would be Woodbine Beach on a long weekend... pic.twitter.com/CdKK5VkOAs— Pissarro522 (@pissarro5222) May 23, 2022
Toronto Mayor John Tory addressed the problem in a statement ahead of Monday night's official fireworks show at Ashbridges Bay Park, calling the previous night's activity "criminal and reckless."
"Officers responded to multiple calls of crowds of people illegally setting fireworks off and aiming them at people, including at the police. Beyond the shooting of fireworks at each other, this led to even more dangerous acts. This is totally unacceptable behaviour and I support police doing all they can to protect people and keep the public safe," wrote Tory.
"Despite this hooliganism, officers were able to make arrests and make sure there are legal consequences for those breaking the law. I am thankful for the substantial presence of police and for the work they did under difficult circumstances."
Toronto - we can do so much better than this. We condemn this behaviour in the strongest terms. It’s a shame that the actions of a few wreck it for everyone else. Always use fireworks in a responsible & safe manner. Learn how to at: https://t.co/UJFHyQAPgF https://t.co/JM8s11QSPq— CNFA: Canadian National Fireworks Association (@c_nfa) May 23, 2022
Tory promised a beefed up police presence for the area on Monday night, and it appears to have helped some, as only five people were arrested during the city's official fireworks show.
The mayor also said that he had discussed with TPS Chief Ramer "what additional steps could be taken to limit the presence of fireworks on our beaches and keep them safe going forward," — but for many, it's too little, too late.
"I thought the huge police presence last night at dusk was overkill but it looks like the trend towards showing up at Woodbine Beach every long weekend to shoot, stab, rob, and set off fireworks horizontally continues," commented one person on Twitter. "Yet another way Toronto seems to be in rapid decline."
Join the conversation Load comments