Jim Durrell slams Canada Day lines as ‘unmitigated disaster’

Canada Day
The lineup of Canada Day revellers. (Photo by Tonda MacCharles / Twitter)

The vice-chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board did not mince words Monday when he called the extreme line-ups to get on Parliament Hill during Canada Day a disaster.

“Under the guise of security, in my estimation, it was an unmitigated disaster,” Jim Durrell told the board meeting Monday evening. “Canada Day was terrorists ‘1’, rank and file Canadians ‘0’.”

Durrell has spent years working to bring more visitors to Ottawa in his previous positions, which include serving as chairman of the Ottawa Convention Centre (now known as the Shaw Centre) as well as chairing the board of the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority. The local businessman is also a former mayor of pre-amalgamation Ottawa.

At Monday's board meeting – the first since Canada Day – Durrell noted that many out-of-town visitors fell victim to poor planning.

“When you see Canadians come from coast to coast to celebrate a very special event in our country, get funnelled into the lines, without supervision… it was a disgrace,” Durrell said. “These poor souls and children, sitting there for two and three hours often, not knowing where they were going, and for what? Security?”

Durrell said he didn’t blame the police services for the long line-ups, and instead believed the federal government was at fault.

The celebrations on and around Parliament Hill on Canada Day were managed by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau defended the security posture that was taken on Canada Day, and that given the realities of the day, “when we have major events, we have to have that visible, physical presence.”

However, he said there was no question that the long lines and length of time people had to wait “were unacceptable.”

“I don’t believe that security was at fault for that,” he said. “I believe that the event organizers could have been better prepared to manage the queues and process people as they said they would.”

Bordeleau said that organizers had estimated they would be able to process 10,000 people an hour through security, but the reality was closer to 4,500.

“In addition to that, they stopped processing people for approximately 30 to 45 minutes while VIPs got onto the Hill, which should not have happened,” he said.

“From an event management perspective, there were huge gaps that we had identified up front and said you better take care of these things. That was not done,” he said. “We provided input during the event for them to readjust their plans and unfortunately that wasn’t done.”

With files from OBJ staff. This article originally appeared in Metro News.