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Toronto extends cancellation of major festivals and summer events until Labour Day

CNE is canceled again for the second consecutive year. Photo by Luís Aparício (file)

Some of Toronto’s major summer festivals, including the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), have been canceled for the second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The slap in the face came on Friday (May 14), after the city announced that is extending the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted outdoor events to September 6.

“The City understands the importance of these events to Toronto’s vitality, liveability, and prosperity. City staff are working in close collaboration with event organizers, who in every instance possible have been consulted on this approach and given advance notice of this decision”, the city said in a statement.

On the part of the Mayor John Tory, the guarantee that “we will continue to support the City’s major events through these tough times and will do everything we can to make sure they come back stronger in 2022”.

This decision, made in consultation with Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service, and mass participation event organizers, follows the previous cancellation of all such events up to July 1.

Below is a list of the main events impacted by the decision. However, the city says that some of the events may be offered virtually.

  • Taste of the Middle East
  • Taste of Lawrence
  • Honda Indy
  • Toronto Outdoor Art Fair
  • Afrofest
  • Salsa in Toronto
  • 49th Annual Festival of India
  • Bloor West StreetFest
  • Beaches Jazz Festival
  • Oss Fest
  • Caribbean Junior Carnival
  • Scarborough Ribfest
  • Caribbean Carnival, King and Queen Competition, Pan Alive and Grand Parade
  • Taste of the Danforth
  • Vegandale Food Drink Festival
  • Bollywood Film Fair
  • Waterfront Night Market
  • Canadian National Exhibition
  • Mabuhay Philippines Festival
  • Toronto Chinatown Festival
  • Labour Day Parade

In a statement, CNE officials warned that without financial support from all levels of government, “a second year of cancellation puts one of Canada’s longest standing events in jeopardy of surviving through the latest pandemic restrictions”.

“The CNEA is committed to working closely with its many partners, including the City of Toronto and provincial and local public health authorities, to plan towards a phenomenal event in 2022, when we can again come together in large numbers to celebrate. But we need adequate COVID-relief funding from the federal and provincial governments to see it through”, said John Kiru, President of the Canadian National Exhibition Board of Directors.

The cancellation of the event last year was only the second time this has happened in CNE’s 142-year history. The other time occurred during World War II.

Darrell Brown, CNE’s executive director, said that “what happens in the next few months will be a watershed moment for the organization and the legacy of Canada’s largest fair.”

“Today’s announcement (Friday) by the city means that the CNE will have to reassess the financial viability of surviving a second consecutive year of lost revenues totalling up to $70 million”, added Brown. ■

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