City of Toronto cancels every major summer event over COVID-19

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Toronto residents woke up this morning to the news that every major event scheduled for the summer has been cancelled.

The cancellations, posted at 7 a.m., pertain to every in-person city-led and city-permitted event until at least Sept. 6.

The move is to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and help provide “predictability” to event organizers.

“The city and the vast majority of Toronto residents are doing everything we can right now to stop the spread of COVID-19 and get vaccinated,” said Mayor John Tory, in a statement. “Following the public health measures and getting vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible will help us bring this pandemic to an end so that we can safely gather together once again. 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.”

The announcement pertains to festivals and other large gatherings held at outdoor sites, and include the following:

  • 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

Absent from the list is smaller outdoor events such as the summer programming at the city-run High Park amphitheatre organized by Canadian Stage Company. So, perhaps there is hope for at least smaller in-person outdoor events.

The CNE issued a statement acknowledging the cancellation, for a second year, and called attention to the need for relief funding.

“The CNEA [CNE Association] 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,” wrote John Kiru, president of the Canadian National Exhibition Board of Directors, in a statement. “But we need adequate COVID-relief funding from the federal and provincial governments to see it through.”

Mayor Tory responded directly to the CNE with a statement of his own committing to working with the city’s largest summer attraction to make sure it is a successful 2022.