Frustrated tourists line up for hours without getting to Parliament
Published Saturday, July 1, 2017 4:49PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 1, 2017 10:01PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Bad weather and confusing lines to get to security led to frustration Saturday as thousands of people waited hours to get to the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
While the wait was only about 20-30 minutes around 8 a.m. -- long before the show started -- by late morning, the line stretched several blocks, snaking in different directions to get to the two security checkpoints on the east and west sides of Parliament Hill. At one point, the wait to line up and go through security was five hours.
Security sources told CTV News that concerns were raised early in the day that the long lines were disorganized. Sources say that police officers were told to focus on security, leaving the crowds to their own devices.
"I love to see the enthusiasm of all the crowds and the camaraderie of the people, but it's one of the worst organized events I've ever seen," said David Hepting, who drove to Ottawa from northern Saskatchewan.
Hepting said he waited for three hours before being turned away because the line he was in wasn't an official line.
"There's a lot of police here, but they're just here for security and nobody's really guiding the crowds or anything and it's pretty chaotic," he said.
Another man said he arrived around 10 a.m. and waited two-and-a-half to three hours before "things fell apart."
"People were rushing the main gates, they closed down everything and they're saying that we can't even get in now," the Cambridge, Ont. man told CTV's Mercedes Stephenson.
"Maybe they didn't plan properly for this. I don't know if we're going to stick around for the fireworks... It's not a great situation."
Vikram, a Mississauga, Ont. man who said heavy traffic extended his drive to Ottawa, waited two hours in line without moving.
"It's very frustrating that the arrangements are very poor," he said.
An hour after the noon show ended, there were still dozens of people queued up to get through security.
The Department of Canadian Heritage has performances scheduled for most of the day to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, though it's the noon and evening shows that were to draw high-ranking politicians and bigger-name talent.
Heavy rain Saturday morning meant part of the lawn on Parliament Hill was covered in ankle-deep water, leaving wide open spaces for the normally packed event.
The Parliamentary Protective Service, which is in charge of security on the Hill, estimated a crowd of 25,000 at 1:45 p.m. ET. A spokeswoman said there were initially delays getting people through security due to the weather, which caused flooding on the Hill, and the VIP arrivals.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family were all on the Hill for the two-and-a-half-hour noon show.
Last year, officials estimated 40,000 people were on the Hill for the noon show. The year before, they estimated 34,000.
A spokeswoman for Canadian Heritage, which is responsible for the overall organization of the Canada Day celebrations every year, referred questions about the lines to the Parliamentary Protective Service, which is responsible for security on Parliament Hill.
The Parliamentary Protective Service did not return a call for comment.
The line of visitors attempting to get to Parliament Hill stretches several blocks from the security screening area on the east side of the grounds. (Photo: Brian O'Connell / CTV)