All major summer events, including CNE, Caribbean Carnival, cancelled again this year, city says
Published Friday, May 14, 2021 6:21AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 14, 2021 1:40PM EDT
The city has confirmed that all major events in Toronto this summer, including the Caribbean Carnival and the Canadian National Exhibition, will once again be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, the city cancelled all events and permits through to June 30 and today's announcement means events typically held in Toronto in July, August, and over the Labour Day weekend will also not proceed in person.
"To continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help provide predictability to major event organizers, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted outdoor events to September 6," officials said in a news release issued Friday.
"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 is committed to working closely with event organizers to help them manage through 2021 and come back stronger in 2022."
In a written statement, the CNE said while organizers "understand the importance for public health authorities to take necessary measures to stop the spread of COVID-19," more relief funding is needed from both the federal and provincial governments.
"Last year’s historic decision to cancel the fair marked only the second occasion in its 142-year history, and not since WWII, had the CNE closed in its entirety," the statement read.
"The absence of the 18-day fair resulted in a loss of $128 million economic impact to the province; and more than $35 million of lost potential earnings from ticket sales, exhibitor commitments, sponsorships and other income streams as a result of its cancellation."
The statement went on to note that revenue losses from the cancellation of this year's event will have an impact on future fairs.
"The revenue generated each year is reinvested into the next year; therefore, the cancellations and financial losses of 2020 and 2021 will have a consequential impact on the future of the CNE," the statement concluded.
"CNE organizers plan to provide more updates in the coming weeks."
Mayor John Tory said he is working with the CNE to help the fair get "through this difficult year" and offer a bigger and better in-person event in 2022.
"The city supported The Ex when it had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the city will once again step forward to support the CNE again this year," he said in a statement.
"We are committed to working with the CNE as a partner, to support continued operations and to ensure that this historic event has a successful return in 2022 and I am confident that the other governments share that determination."
Coun. Mike Layton, the vice-president of the CNE board of directors, has launched a petition, urging the federal and provincial governments to each put forward $5.5 million in order to keep the non-profit organization that runs the event every year afloat.
The petition warns that if funding does not come through, "the CNE will not survive to 2022."
"We've done our best as a fair to reduce our costs but unfortunately we did continue planning for the fair to happen because you have to start that work about a year out. With the announcement that happened today... it means that we are at a financial point right now that the fair can't happen in 2022 unless we get that government support at some point soon," Layton said.
"The City of Toronto has extended their commitment that they did last year to ensure that we are not paying needlessly for the site. The mayor has indicated that he will work with us to ensure the future of the fair as well on the City of Toronto grounds at Exhibition Place."
Lisa MacLeod, the minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, said in a statement that she is disappointed to learn about the cancellations.
“We will continue to work with the CNE and sector stakeholders, so we are able to return when it is safe to do so. Additional support for large scale operators, including the CNE, is being considered as we plan for a broader recovery within our sectors,” she said.
Mary Fragedakis, the executive director of the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA, said the cancellation of Taste of the Danforth for the second consecutive year is disappointing but not surprising.
"Given everything that is going on right now in Ontario... it is understandable," she said. "It is pretty devastating for the businesses. Many of them rely on this weekend."
Pride Toronto previously confirmed that once again this year, annual festivities for Pride Month, which runs from June 1 to June 30, will be virtual.
Scarborough Ribfest chairman Michael Murton said that this year's event will once again be held using a drive-thru model.
Speaking to CP24 on Friday morning, Tory said the city could no longer put off making a decision for whether events could proceed in July and August.
"The organizers need to have the notice from us. It is one of those things where some of them are in fact telling us that they are going to cancel the event," he said.
"We have to issue them permits and they have to sign contracts for different kinds of things and it becomes a kind of an ongoing discussion as to how long we can leave it... now is the time unfortunately where we have to say and so that's the way it's going to be."
He said he feels confident all of these beloved events will return to Toronto in 2022.
"This is one of the saddest things I have to be a part of to announce the cancellation of these events that I love and that people across the city love. I mean some of these attract literally millions of people but that's the point," he said.
"We hope to be in a much better position as a result of our patience and vaccinations and everything else but we still probably won't be the point where it is going to be advisable to have crowds of millions of people."