With two days to go until the Calgary Stampede kicks off, all levels of emergency services are emphasizing that they are working together to ensure it goes off without a hitch.
Officials from the Calgary Police Service, Calgary Emergency Management Agency, Calgary Fire Department, EMS and Calgary Transit spoke at a press conference on Wednesday, outlining what measures will be taken this year.
Authorities hope that the 350,000 people who attend the parade and the one million people who attend the Stampede over 10 days stay safe while having fun, the Calgary Police Service said.
Jim Laurendeau, the Stampede’s vice-president of park planning and development, said there will be increased security screening with walk-through and hand-held metal detectors as well as bag searches.
He reminded people to leave prohibited items at home.
“If you wouldn’t bring it to the airport, don’t bring it to Stampede Park,” he said
Even though weed isn’t allowed to be consumed in the park, it won’t be confiscated at the gates.
Laurendeau said all activities are monitored through an “extensive network” of cameras and on-site police. He explained they ramped up security planning and K9 detection this year.
“We have 10 per cent more security cameras this year that we’ve ever had in the past,” he said.
Although the threat level remains unchanged, they’re always looking to improve and fine-tune practices, he said.
There is also an on-site meteorologist to anticipate any weather changes.
Tom Sampson, chief of CEMA, said emergency services ran scenarios based on events that have happened in the past or around the world to get prepared.
“I hope our best work goes unseen, that you actually don’t know what we’ve done because it’s so well rehearsed,” he said.
“We always plan for the worst but expect the best and I know that Calgarians join us in that.”
Sampson said the team is experienced.
CPS Insp. Paul Wyatt said officers will be “highly visible” throughout the festivities.
This year, officers from Tsuut’ina Nation and Blood Tribe police services will be brought on board for the sake of experience and cultural exchanges as well as forging new partnerships. It’s the first time CPS has had outside agencies involved in the Stampede.
“During Stampede, the park operates as a ninth police district with its own commander, its own radio channel and its own patrol officers,” Wyatt said. “This allows us to coordinate the policing throughout the park and ensure that all areas are well patrolled.”
For officers, the biggest concern is over-indulging in booze, which might lead to violence, Wyatt said.
“[We want] people enjoying it responsibly, not drinking and driving. We’ve got the trains running 24/7. There are lots of ways to get here and get home safely.”
New this year is a text line at 74100 where you can report immediate safety or security concerns. Calgary Transit said more than 5,000 texts were sent in the last two months.