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Toronto to replace impromptu van attack memorials with permanent display

Last Updated Jun 3, 2018 at 10:15 pm EDT

Thousands of cards, photos and flowers were dismantled by city staff at an event in Toronto on Sunday afternoon, to be replaced with a permanent memorial for the victims of the deadly van attack.

Mayor John Tory was in attendance as the impromptu memorials left in the days after the April 23 attack were taken down.

He said the items will be placed in storage until the city comes up with an appropriate way to display them.

“They should form part of the historical record of Toronto because this was such a tragic event, and the reaction to it was an important part of the history of Toronto,” said Tory.

Sunday’s event took place at Olive Square and Mel Lastman Square, the approximate sites where the attack in the city’s North York neighbourhood began and ended.

City staff will install temporary plaques on Sunday, and Tory said the city will then decide how to proceed with a permanent memorial.

He said it’s important to establish a permanent memorial at the site of the attack, as the many mementos left by mourners wouldn’t last forever.

“I think a lot of Torontonians would want to honour the memories of those who died, because it was a horrific and very unusual thing to have happen in a city as peaceful as Toronto,” said Tory.

He added it is important to consult with the families of the victims and with people who live in the neighbourhood to create a memorial they believe is appropriate.

“Its part of the healing this city has to go through,” said Tory.

Ten people were killed and another 16 were injured when a van jumped the curb and ran over multiple people on the sidewalk.

A 25-year-old man from Richmond Hill, Ont., faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in the incident. His case has been put over until September.

“A sombre and heartfelt tribute this afternoon to all the victims of the Yonge Street van attack, as we decommissioned the makeshift memorials at Olive Square Park and Mel Lastman Square,” Tory said in a tweet on Sunday afternoon.

“The city is working with residents and the community to plan an appropriate permanent memorial to honour and remember the victims of this attack.”