'It's a very strong city': Toronto rallies on and off the ice after deadly van attack
City council to recess until Wednesday after ‘expressing its condolences’
Thousands of Toronto Maple Leaf fans gathered both inside and outside the Air Canada Centre on Monday evening, trying to shake off the sadness of the day — a deadly van attack just hours earlier in the Yonge Street and Finch Avenue area.
People in the city looked to think about something other than the carnage, if only for just a few hours, as the Leafs tried to win Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins to even the series.
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But around the Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto were signs that the city may not feel as safe as it once was —heavy cement blocks were set up to protect the 5,000 fans expected to cheer on the home team in Maple Leaf Square, and dump trucks and police court services vehicles blocked intersections from traffic.
The security measures reflected the feelings of Coun. John Filion, who said Monday on CBC Radio's Here and Now: "What happened today will profoundly change the city from here on in."
Inside the arena, just before the first puck dropped, the nearly 20,000 spectators fell quiet during a moment of silence for the victims of the attack — the 10 dead and 15 injured. During Canada's national anthem, those attending the game could be heard singing aloud.
"It brought goose bumps, it definitely did," Nick Yeatmen told CBC Toronto after the game. "It's a very strong city over here. We'll definitely rebound from this."
Kyle Kisebich took a flight into the city Monday from Seattle to watch the game. He learned about the attack from a stranger who "seemed pretty shaken up.
"You can sense that we should be enjoying ourselves, but here's somebody that has seen fit to fight against the goodwill of the community," Kisebich said.
"We have to roll on — Canadians and Americans — we have to keep doing what we do."
Council to recess after 'expressing its condolences'
The iconic Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square was dimmed Monday evening, and "the official flags at Toronto City Hall, all Civic Centres and Metro Hall will be flown at half-mast until further notice to mark the tragic events that took place today," according to a tweet sent out by the city.
The Toronto Sign has been dimmed and the official flags at Toronto City Hall, all Civic Centres and Metro Hall will be flown at half-mast until further notice to mark the tragic events that took place today. <a href="https://t.co/4fNVQbEiJb">pic.twitter.com/4fNVQbEiJb</a>—@TorontoComms
According to the city clerk Twitter account, city council will meet Tuesday morning. But after "expressing its condolences for today's tragic event," the members will recess until Wednesday.
Closer to where the van attack happened, North York Civic Centre, Mel Lastman Square and Douglas Snow Aquatic Centre will be shut Tuesday, and staff are being asked to not show up for work at those locations Wednesday.
Online fundraisers popping up
Fundraisers have started online — charitable endeavours that have been in the news of late, including a Humboldt Broncos $15-million GoFundMe campaign that broke records after the deadly bus crash in Saskatchewan.
The national charity Canada Zakat, which helped raise over $800,000 for victims of last year's Quebec mosque attack, have started a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $1 million for the funeral expenses of the van attack victims. By Monday night, more than $7,000 had been collected.
Sunnybrook staff 'incredibly co-ordinated'
Ten of the injured in the van attack Monday were sent to Sunnybrook Hospital, where "teams reacted in an incredibly co-ordinated fashion," Dr. Dan Cass, the hospital's executive vice-president and chief medical executive, said at a news conference on Monday evening.
The hospital has set up a family information support centre number (416-480-4940) for anyone looking to find information about loved ones.
Canadian Blood Services was "closely monitoring the response effort in Toronto to ensure patients affected by the collision receive blood and blood products as needed," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CBC Toronto.
"If you would like to donate blood to help patients, please visit blood.ca to book an appointment."
Regular donations throughout the year enable us to respond to an emergency immediately. If you would like to donate blood as a way to help during this time, please visit <a href="https://t.co/WKNY4RvdwI">https://t.co/WKNY4RvdwI</a> to book an appointment.—@itsinyoutogive
In the case of the Maple Leafs, they won their Stanley Cup playoff game Monday night on a wave of emotion, forcing a Game 7 on Wednesday in Boston, a city that knows tragedy only too well, having experienced the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
After the game, Leafs fan Amin Rahnama explained why he was "just going to get up and go to work, and just carry on.
"We should become stronger with each attack," he said.
"You never know when or how or what's going to happen."
With files from Greg Ross and Emmett Shane