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In wake of Barcelona attack, CNE reassures visitors event is safe

Last Updated Aug 18, 2017 at 4:40 pm EST

TORONTO – The organizers of the Canadian National Exhibition, which opened its gates on Friday — one day after two deadly terrorist attacks in Spain — are reassuring the public that the Toronto event will be safe.

They said the security plans for the 18-day fair were modified earlier this year following a number of terrorists attacks in Europe in which cars were used as deadly weapons.

“We have hardened some areas around the site that we thought were vulnerable,” said Virginia Ludy, the event’s CEO. “So we have taken measures so that we can prevent incidents of the nature that we heard about yesterday.”

Thursday’s van attack in Barcelona killed 13 people and injured 120, while a car attack early Friday in the Spanish seaside resort of Cambrils left one dead and five injured.

Spanish authorities have said Canada is among 34 countries with citizens killed or injured in the attacks. Global Affairs said Canadians were “affected” by the attacks, but didn’t provide further details, citing privacy concerns.

In the last 13 months, there have been nearly a dozen vehicle-ramming attacks in Europe and the U.S.

Ludy said that the CNE does not allow vehicles onto the fair’s grounds when it is open to the public, but it will be closely monitoring anyone driving on-site with deliveries.

“We can’t just stop living our lives,” Ludy said. “We take security and the safety of our visitors very seriously.”

Toronto police said that they are involved in providing security for the CNE as well, but wouldn’t give details on what that entails.

Mayor John Tory said he had discussed security with the city’s police chief.

“He is satisfied with the plans that have been put in place in consultation with the Toronto Police Service by the CNE,” said Tory, as he attended the opening ceremony Friday morning.

The CNE runs from Aug. 18 to Sept. 4 in Toronto, and is expected to attract about 1.5 million people.