Calgary Stampede ramps up security after 2015 stabbing, severe weather, terror attacks

Calgary Stampede ramps up security
WATCH ABOVE: Just a few days until the greatest outdoor show on earth gets underway. While the midway, rodeo grounds and the grandstand stage set up, there's a lot of other work going on behind the scenes to keep everyone safe. Given world events this year, and a stabbing that happened at the midway last year, some extra security precautions are in place. Sarah Offin has details.

The Calgary Stampede is only three days away and crews are busy setting up and preparing for over a million visitors who are expected on the Stampede grounds.

With all the extra traffic in the city and dense crowds on the ground, Stampede officials are working with police to ramp up security efforts.

READ MORE: City looks to Calgary Stampede for boost in tough economic times

Bag checks will be in place at the front gates where staff will check to make sure weapons and alcoholic beverages don’t make their way onto the grounds.

Calgary Stampede bag checks
Bag checks will be in place at the front gates during Calgary Stampede 2016, a program that has been ramped up since it started in 2010. Sarah Offin / Global News

Paul Burrows, the manager of security services for the Calgary Stampede, said there will be additional officers set up in the midway area this year following a stabbing last year that sent three men to hospital – one in critical condition.

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READ MORE: 3 men taken to hospital after stabbing at Calgary Stampede

The Stampede grounds are patrolled as a separate police district, with officers pulled from some winter programs, including school units. That means officers won’t be pulled from patrols on the streets where Calgarians and visitors can expect to see extra check stops.

An extensive CCTV surveillance system is set up at the park, covering 240 acres on the Stampede grounds.

READ MORE: ‘Not about the 10 days’ – Calgary Stampede looks to year-round event space

Terrorist attacks that have taken place around the world in the last year have also motivated officials to step up security. While the attacks in Paris, Turkey and most recently in Baghdad have targeted large groups of people, security officials said they have no reason to believe the Stampede is a target.

“Obviously with everything going on around the globe recently it’s something that we’re very aware of, and we’ve been doing a lot of analytical work to ensure that we have the information that we need,” Insp. Leah Barber with the Calgary Police said. “At this point we don’t have any evidence to suggest this a high-risk target.”

Watch below: Stampede President Bill Gray joins Global Calgary with details on what’s new and exciting for Stampede 2016.

What’s new for Calgary Stampede 2016
What’s new for Calgary Stampede 2016

Officials will also be closely monitoring the weather. Last year the Stampede was caught off guard by an intense storm that pelted visitors with marble-sized hail and sent people scrambling for cover.

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“We do get surprised by things. The entire city was surprised by the sudden hail storm we had during last year’s event. That came with no real warnings, I believe, from people actively watching that. That’s weather in southern Alberta. It’s wild,” Paul Burrows, manager of security services for the Calgary Stampede, said.

Recent weather events, including a number of tornadoes (two confirmed in recent days near Ponoka and Hardisty), is also cause for concern.

Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of recent storms in Alberta

A weather monitoring system was set up at the Calgary Stampede in 2009 with detailed forecasting of a 10-by-10-square-kilometre area that covers the grounds.

While officials say they can’t foresee everything, they will be watching the sky, the ground and the streets of Calgary closely for anything any threats during Stampede 2016.

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