24 years later and the Raptors managed to clinch the NBA championship title this year. Once the Raptors hit the playoffs, the excitement in Toronto soared and continued to spread across the country until the final game. Six in six! They did it. They made history.
As a Raptors fan who watched almost every game this season, I was thrilled to see them win and proud of my hometown. Unfortunately, I am not equally proud of the celebratory parade hosted by the City of Toronto. First, Mayor John Tory announced that employers should let their employees take the day off. While this may seem like a nice gesture, it’s hugely problematic. Many businesses require their employees in order to operate and shutting down for a day is not feasible. Second, the City failed to recognize that by inviting our large population, more planning and more security was required to ensure the safety of patrons attending at the celebratory parade and event held at Nathan Philips Square.
The anticipated number of people attending at the parade was initially over 1 million. In fact, it is believed that there were over 2 million people and that does not include all the individuals watching from office buildings. The population of the Greater Toronto Area is 5.9 million. To see the fans come out in the masses and electrify the City was incredible, amazing and mind blowing but it was very obvious to me as a personal injury lawyer that there would be issues. Luckily it was not worse.
In Nathan Philips Square fans started to show up at around 4:00 a.m. The Square was at capacity in the early hours. The Square’s capacity is believed to be 65,000. Fans could not leave for fear that they would not get back in. It was sunny and in the mid 20’s outside, but there was no food or water served to those fans in the Square. It was standing room only, shoulder-to-shoulder. Children were separated from parents and taken to 52 Division of the Toronto Police Services for parents to retrieve them. The parade took 5 hours longer than it was supposed to due to overcrowding in the streets which meant that people waiting for the final celebration in Nathan Philips Square were left there for that much longer.
Then there were gun shots. How was violence not anticipated? How is the City surprised? Disappointed I accept but surprised I do not. In case people have forgotten, there has been a serious gun violence issue in the City of Toronto. Our streets are a nightmare and with millions of people crammed into downtown Toronto, I fail to understand how our city’s officials expected everyone to be well behaved when day to day street behaviour proves otherwise.
At Coronation Park and Dundas Square fans were able to view large screen televisions and be with other fans to celebrate the victory and the players. The intention of these venues was to alleviate the overcrowding on the parade route and Nathan Philips Square. Right beside Dundas Square, altercations ensued and stabbings occurred. It is unknown whether the stabbings are related to the festivities.
If you suffered from injury as an innocent bystander attending at the Raptors parade or celebrations, you may have a cause of action as against the City of Toronto and the organizers of the Raptors parade and/or other venues. Issues resulting in personal injury were foreseeable and more could and should have been done to protect the public. To learn more about your legal options, call me at (416) 967-9100 ext. 234 or contact us online to book a free consultation.