Yonge Street is bustling days after van attack, but deep uneasiness lingers

For Torontonians who live and work on the stretch of Yonge Street where a deadly van attack was carried out on Monday, a sense of normalcy is still elusive.

Vigils planned for the weekend to give Torontonians a chance to grieve

Jenny Lee has avoided walking in the area where a rental van hit pedestrians on Monday, despite working nearby. (CBC)

For Torontonians who live and work on the stretch of Yonge Street where a deadly van attack was carried out on Monday, a sense of normalcy is still elusive.

Cars and buses are back and the yellow police tape has been taken down between Finch and Sheppard Avenues, so the street appears to be back to its busy self.

There are people walking on the stretch of Yonge where a driver killed 10 people and injured 14 more, but for some, there is nervousness about being out on the street. Suspect Alek Minassian, 25, is being held in custody.

Vigils are planned for the weekend, including one hosted by the city on Sunday night, to give people a chance to grieve together. 

In the meantime, Jenny Lee can't even bring herself to walk on the west side of Yonge Street.

Lee works at a Korean restaurant at Yonge and Finch, and for the past two days, she has opted to take the subway to work rather than walk where people died.  

"It's terrible and very sad," she said on Thursday morning.

Emma Taman, who lives in the neighbourhood where the van attack occurred, says her area is resilient. (CBC)

A similar sense of unease lingers for Emma Taman, who lives in the area.

"We still don't really know who the victims were," she told CBC News. "You go in and get coffee and hope that it wasn't somebody who served you coffee every day."

But Taman said her community is "resilient," and that if the attack permanently changes her neighbourhood, she hopes it's for the better.

Steps to healing

In the days since the attack, a memorial piled with flowers, signs and messages has grown at Olive Square Park, just south of Finch, becoming a focal point for grief.

"They're there in the evenings and during the night," Olga Gallegos said of the mourners who have gathered at the park. "Even as you see them walk by, they're stopping and praying and acknowledging."

Plans are in motion to provide Torontonians with comfort and a chance to support one another in the coming days.  

Flowers ring the wall at Olive Square Park in North York, where a memorial to the van attack victims has sprung up. (Lisa Xing/Twitter)

On Thursday and Friday at lunchtime, therapy dogs from St. John Ambulance will be at Mel Lastman Square. 

On Thursday, one chocolate-coloured therapy dog brought comfort to residents who until now had felt uncomfortable leaving their houses.

The dogs have already visited a nearby office tower and are also headed to a seniors centre and a school.  

North of the city, in suburban Richmond Hill, Ont., police have been coming and going from Minassian's house since Monday. They arrived on the scene a few hours after the attack, according to neighbour Diana Hughes. 

"I've never seen such things. It makes my stomach turn upside down," Hughes, who lives in the area with her husband and two children, told CBC News. 

"It's very scary."

Vigils are also planned for the weekend. One will be hosted by the Korean Canadian Cultural Association to begin Friday night at 7 p.m. at the North York Civic Centre.

The city has also organized a #TorontoStrong vigil that will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday at Mel Lastman Square. It will be an "interfaith demonstration of the city's diverse communities as well as a display of the city's resiliency," according to a release.