Emergency crews responded to back-to-back suspicious package calls in Saskatoon Monday.
Police, fire and hazmat teams were first called a downtown office building at 211 4th Avenue South around 10:15 a.m.
Officers reported an envelope containing a white, powdery substance was dropped off after 10:15 a.m. A hazmat team tested the substance and found it to be non-hazardous.
As a result of the call, 10 workers were quarantined on the first floor and traffic was restricted at 4th Avenue and 20th Street for the duration of the work. The case has been turned over to Saskatoon police for further investigation.
Shortly after emergency crews wrapped up downtown, a call came in of a suspicious delivered to the Saskatoon Cancer Centre on Campus Drive around 12:40 p.m.
Officials confirmed the second package contained what appeared to be a white powder substance, which was later determined to be non-hazardous.
Saskatoon police spokesperson Alyson Edwards said the package was discovered in a “relatively confined area” of the cancer centre, allowing patients to continue treatments. Police also credited “quick-thinking employees” for handling the situation well and reporting it immediately.
Edwards noted it’s still too early to determine whether Monday’s incidents are linked.
“We have seen in the past that several packages were connected in another incident, and that will certainly be something we look into in this case as well,” she said.
The first call Monday to 211 4th Avenue South was the scene of a similar incident in November 2016.
On Nov. 29, five suspicious packages were delivered to various locations around Saskatoon.
Alexa Emerson, also known as Amanda May Totchek, faces 15 charges – including mischief and uttering threats – for her alleged involvement with the incidents.
Emerson pleaded not guilty to all counts. She was released on bail Jan. 20 with strict conditions to live in Alberts and not be in Saskatoon except for court.
Since November, more suspicious package calls have been reported in Saskatoon. None have been linked to Emerson.
In mid-March, a suspicious package was dropped off at the River Centre building.
Last week, Buena Vista Elementary School had to be evacuated after an envelope containing white powder was delivered there.
All substances were tested and found to be non-hazardous.
As for whether the person or people responsible may be sending the packages for attention, police said the incidents are concerning no matter the motivation.
“It requires a vast amount of resources and it’s concerning because we’re talking about public safety, and alarming the public unnecessarily,” Edwards said.
The Saskatoon Fire Department noted in every case, response is swift and involves police, fire, hazmat and EMS personnel.
“It never becomes routine. We take each and every one of these seriously – and there are factors that are different for each one,” said Wayne Rodger, assistant fire chief of communications.
– With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel and Ryan Brandt.