'An absolute fiasco': Disorganized Canada Day security lines cause backlog

Parliament Hill was the focal point of Canada Day, but many people are saying it was the very thing that ruined the festivities, with long security lines meaning people waited hours to set foot on the lawn.

Some people waited 8 hours to be admitted to Parliament lawn on Saturday

Members of the public wait in line to go through security screening before being allowed onto Parliament Hill on Canada Day in Ottawa on Saturday, July 1, 2017. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Parliament Hill was the focal point of Canada Day, but many people say it was the very thing that ruined the festivities. 

Long security lines to get onto the Hill left many people huddled together for several hours. The crowd reached 25,000 by noon Saturday, and ebbed and flowed as the day progressed. 

But once the designated stanchions had filled, the line spilled into the streets causing chaos. 

One woman waited in line for three hours before a police officer told her she wasn't standing in an official line. 

"(I) stood in a line for three hours to get on the Hill, where the police officer told us to line up, just to be told at the other end by another police officer that that line was closed now and go wait somewhere else for five hours. No thanks," said Shea Doyle on Facebook. 

Others said they braved the line only to be turned away at security because the lawn was too full. 

'Go to the other celebration sites'

The Parliamentary Protective Service was updating current capacity every few hours, then began encouraging people to find another place to celebrate. 

The Hill's maximum capacity is 31,000 people, according to PPS.

While thousands have made it onto Parliament Hill today, some gave up part way through the line. 

"Today was supposed to be the big special day," said Laurie Dawson, who came from Vancouver for the celebrations. "Our expectation was that the capital region was going to be prepared. And it was an absolute fiasco."

Dawson said they expected crowds, but the police had no control over them. 

Hungry, wet, tired

Waiting in Canada Day lines is usually softened by the live broadcasts from the shows taking place in the area, but even those were glitching on Saturday. 

"When we got to the screen, the screen had no audio. So we couldn't even hear the show that we flew 3,000 kilometres to see," Dawson said.

When the bags were finally checked and feet hit the lawn, a whole new set of challenges presented themselves. 

For those who were able to get food before lining up to enter Parliament Hill, garbage bins were overflowing by early afternoon. They are now being cleaned up. (David Rockne Corrigan/CBC News)

Allie Woodley says she was starving after waiting four hours to set foot on the Hill, but she wasn't going to risk leaving to get food. There was only one snack tent set up on the lawn and she said the line was almost as formidable as the one beyond the fences. 

"Hopefully it's all worth it in the end, but we're still waiting in line because we don't want to leave to get food," she said.

"We're stuck here."

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With files from David Rockne Corrigan