Flights have resumed at Toronto’s downtown island airport after a suspicious package was found near the mainland ferry terminal on Saturday, prompting an evacuation and large police operation.
Just after midnight on Sunday, Toronto police said a controlled explosion of the device was carried out.
Toronto police said in a tweet that a “suspicious package” was being investigated in an incident that was reported at around 3:49 p.m. on Saturday.
The area was evacuated, and police said the emergency disposal unit was present at the scene.
The runway at Billy Bishop Airport was closed for several hours and two scheduled Air Canada flights were diverted to Hamilton.
Police had said buses were brought in for evacuees in the area.
“We ended up pulling the fire alarms in all the nearby buildings to get people to leave,” Const. Laura Brabant said in an emailed statement.
Passengers inside the airport reported seeing six heavily-armed police officers in tactical gear come into the terminal and head toward an upper floor, away from crowds gathered near the exits.
Two persons of interests were detained and cooperating with the investigation, Acting Duty Insp. Jason Albanese said during a media briefing Saturday evening, noting buildings in the airport area had also been evacuated.
“I do want to thank the residents and apologize for disrupting them in this manner,” he said.
Billy Bishop airport notified the police after a routine inspection, Albanese added.
Toronto police said they were conducting a “controlled explosion” at the airport ferry terminal Saturday night. They advised residents to stay away from the area and said a loud bang would be heard.
Lake Shore Boulevard was closed from Strachan Avenue to Dan Leckie Way and Bathurst Street is shut from Bruyeres Mews to Lake Ontario. Queens Quay is closed from Dan Leckie Way to Stadium Road for ongoing police operations.
An emergency training exercise was also scheduled to take place at the airport on Saturday, but police told Global News the two were not related.
According to the Billy Bishop Airport, a device was discovered on a bike parked near the island side of the ferry terminal around 4 p.m.
As of 6:45 p.m., the device was removed by police but flights remained suspended both in and out of the airport due to a police investigation. The runway was officially closed for the night by 7:30 p.m.
Porter Airlines completed its flight schedule for the evening. Two Air Canada flights were diverted to Hamilton and Billy Bishop said passengers remaining in the terminal were being evacuated.
“Passengers should expect delays,” the airport said Saturday evening.
Though the ferry terminal and tunnel closed “out of an abundance of caution,” the airport said there was no immediate threat to the safety of passengers or staff.
Online Saturday night, Mayor John Tory thanked the Toronto police officers who responded to the incident.
“I know this has been and continues to be incredibly disruptive for many people — those who live and work in the are and those travelling — and I thank them for their patience as Toronto police work to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.
Billy Bishop airport offers service to over 20 cities in Canada and the U.S. and welcomes approximately 2.8 million passengers per year, according to owner and operator Ports Toronto.
— with files from The Canadian Press