Toronto police say they have a “robust” plan in place to monitor and minimize any disruptions caused by a Hells Angels memorial ride and gathering in Toronto’s east end on Thursday.
Supt. Scott Baptiste of Traffic Services, speaking to the media outside Toronto police headquarters late this morning, said they’ve been made aware of a “unsanctioned event” scheduled to begin around 11 a.m. tomorrow.
He said police are expecting a “large procession” of 800 to 1,000 motorcyclists, most of whom are Hells Angels members, will depart from Newmarket and head southbound on the Don Valley Parkway before heading eastbound on Lake Shore Boulevard East, and then north on Carlaw Avenue.
“This procession will inevitably cause traffic disruption in our city. We’re working with other police services, including the OPP and York Regional Police, to manage traffic and to ensure pubic safety during this procession,” Baptiste said.
“We have no information to indicate that they intend to do anything other than participate in the memorial ride, followed by the gathering in the city.”
The Hells Angels have a storefront space at 98 Carlaw Ave., just south of Eastern Avenue.
The motorcycle club’s downtown branch used to have a clubhouse just around the corner at 498 Eastern Ave, but that property was seized by the Crown in March 2007 following a series of mass arrests. The 30″ by 120″ lot was sold in early 2016.
Baptiste said tomorrow’s gathering, which is being held in honour of an unnamed former Hells Angel and is separate from the club’s national ride set for this weekend in the Whitby area, is expected to wrap up around 5 p.m.
As a result, he said drivers should expect traffic disruptions along the aforementioned roads from 11 a.m. to noon and from 5 to 6 p.m. Baptiste said traffic delays and road closures will also take place in the area of Carlaw and Eastern avenues starting at 11 a.m. and throughout the afternoon.
People in the Leslieville area can expect to see an overall increased police presence Thursday afternoon as 55 Division will be setting up a command post nearby.
“As with any large gathering in our city, TPS will have visible resources in the area to ensure public safety and to minimize disruption and manage traffic issues,” Baptiste said.
People are being advised to check social media for updates.
This weekend, as many as 1,000 Hells Angels are expected to ride their motorcycles through Whitby for the club’s national motorcycle run.
Durham Regional Police held a news conference Monday to “make sure that our community is aware and provided the accurate information.”
Officials said they hope the three-day event will be “uneventful.”
“If you see a large group of motorcycles, outlaw motorcycle club riders, don’t interact, maintain your distance. Try to stay out of the line of motorcycles and be safe,” OPP Det/Insp. Scott Wade said.
The annual meetup is hosted by the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club chapter based in Brooklin, north of Whitby, and runs from July 22 to 24.
People should also expect to see an increased police presence in that area during the motorcycle run.