Toronto police are bracing for an "unsanctioned" Hells Angels biker procession Thursday expected to draw hundreds of bikers on highways and city streets.
Toronto Police Service Supt. Scott Baptiste says the force is expecting anywhere from 800 to 1,000 Hells Angels and other motorcycle enthusiasts to drive through various streets in memory of an unnamed member who recently died. The Toronto Star has reported the man being commemorated is former Hells Angels member Donny Peterson.
Baptiste called the procession "unsanctioned," saying the group doesn't have a permit from the city for the event.
Police are concerned about the procession's impact on travel, but Baptiste said there is a plan to minimize the disruption for commuters, emergency vehicles and resident safety.
"This procession will inevitably cause traffic disruption in our city," Baptiste told reporters Wednesday."We have no information to indicate that they intend to do anything other than participate in the memorial ride, followed by a gathering."
Police say they will track the procession's movement. As of now, they expect bikers to travel southbound from 11 a.m. to noon Thursday on the Don Valley Parkway from Highway 404 and crossing over Highway 401 before traveling east on Lakeshore Boulevard East. Baptiste says residents should expect traffic disruptions at these locations during this time, and again from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Baptiste says the procession will end at a location on Carlaw Avenue between Eastern Avenue and Lakeshore Boulevard East, where traffic delays are expected to start from 11 a.m. and continue throughout the day.
"We ask that the people avoid traveling there, if possible, and to make alternate travel plans."
Baptiste says the procession is separate from a planned event happening in the Durham region. According to the Durham Regional Police, the Brooklin Chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club are hosting the 2022 Canada Run, where several hundred members are expected to attend from July 22 to 24.
The service says it's working with provincial police as well as York Regional Police to manage traffic and ensure public safety.
"We have been in ongoing communication with this group to understand what exactly they intend to do," Baptiste said.