Officers have arrested the driver of the van, who has been named as Alek Minassian, 25, from Ontario's Richmond Hill.
Police said Minassian was not previously known to them and his motives were still unknown. Police said they did not yet know of a motive.
And in Quebec in October 2014, a Canadian man ran over two soldiers in a parking lot with his vehicle, killing one of them. Toronto is hosting a meeting with G7 leaders where Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to the media about the incident.
Nick Santa, who was studying at a nearby Starbucks coffee shop, told Global TV News the driver appeared to be in control of the vehicle.
"There is no information available to me at the present time that would lead us to conclude that there should be a change in risk level".
Police in the United States have been criticised for being too quick to pull the trigger after a series of high-profile police shootings and deaths of suspects during arrest. It occurred at lunchtime on a sunny day and the sidewalks of the mixed commercial and residential area were full of pedestrians.
An eyewitness said there were "a lot of people lying lifeless on the ground". They said the driver was in custody and officials stopped short of calling it a deliberate act.
Continued below."I was coming out of my van and I'd look and I'd hear this scraping and grinding noise and there's this white Ryder van coming towards me so I had to jump out of the way".
He was seen shouting at police: 'I have a gun in my pocket. He was trying to help the man and "as I am doing it, the guy I was trying to help was dead, so he died in our arms", he said to CNN, adding that "It was like a scene from a war zone", he said.More news: Kim Jong Un's 'bitter sorrow' after fatal China tourist crash
Nolan has lived in the area for nearly two years and "just loves its whole multicultural feel".
"We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities", he said.
"I've never seen violence like this here in Toronto", Lee said.
There have been a string of deadly vehicle attacks in the United States and Europe, including an October 31 attack in NY that killed eight.
"It's absolutely shocking", she said. Two were pronounced dead, five patients were in critical condition and the remaining were in serious conditions, according to Dr. Dan Cass, the hospital's executive vice president.
In a statement, the White House press secretary said Washington "pledges to provide any support Canada may need".
Toronto deputy police chief Peter Yuen asked for witnesses to come forward and said there would be "a long investigation".
Saunders lauded the officer for arresting Minassian without incident. "If I had been there three to four minutes ago, I might had been one of the victims". Bissonnette had mental health issues and was attracted to far-right politics and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Getty The scene of the Toronto van attack. In 2013, an officer shot and killed 18-year-old Sammy Yatim in an incident on a downtown streetcar that was caught on video, leading to a jail sentence for the officer and the recommendations noted above.