City of Toronto extends cancellation of permits for major festivals and launches recovery program for events

News Release

May 15, 2020

City of Toronto extends cancellation of permits for major festivals and launches recovery program for events

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted major festivals and events with attendance of more than 250 people through July 31, and those with attendance of 25,000 or more through August 31. The resumption or cancellation of professional sporting events is not included in this decision.

Today's announcement includes festivals, conferences and cultural programs held in facilities managed by City divisions or public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares. Issued permits are now cancelled and permits that have been applied for will not be issued.

Major summer festivals and events require long lead times for planning, rely on City sites, supports or permissions, and present higher public health risks given limits to physical distancing and exposure to attendees from outside the area.  

This decision follows the cancellation of all such events up to June 30, announced by the City on March 30, and the cancellation of Canada Day events. It enables event organizers to make sound decisions in support of public health efforts and their business needs, access insurance, support impacted employees, manage sponsors and develop alternative approaches, such as virtual events.

The decision to extend the cancellation of City-led events and third-party permits has been made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, the Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service, and major event organizers, and supports the directive that physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. The need to sustain essential services also limits the City's ability to provide support to third-party event organizers to ensure public safety.

The cancellation of major mass participation events of more than 250 people until July 31 includes Salsa on St Clair, Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Honda Indy, Toronto Triathlon Festival, Beaches International Jazz Festival, and Big on Bloor, among others.

The cancellation of major mass participation events of more than 25,000 people until August 31 includes Jerkfest, Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Manila, and Toronto Chinatown Festival, among others.

Toronto Public Health needs to ensure that the risk for the spread of the virus is reduced before we can consider resuming major mass participation events. This includes conforming with the prevailing provincial orders, using the provincial framework for recovery and taking into account Toronto's specific circumstances for the following criteria:

  • significant and sustained reduction in virus spread in Toronto
  • health care system capacity able to implement an effective response to any resurgence of cases
  • public health capacity to manage resurgence in cases
  • adequate surveillance and incidence tracking capacity.
Timing of when services may reopen requires an assessment of risk. Planning for service resumption must then consider actions to modify operations (mitigation strategies) to slow the spread of COVID-19.

To mitigate the impacts of these cancellations, Mayor John Tory announced today that the City will repurpose grant funding that was previously approved by City Council, in order to support festivals that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City's Cultural Festivals Recovery Program will provide financial and in-kind support to:

  • defray financial losses for festivals that were cancelled due to COVID-19
  • assist festival organizers to meet payments due to their suppliers, including artists and small businesses
  • help festival organizers maintain critical operations to survive this year and prepare for their next festival
  • support planning and purchases that help improve the public health and safety practices of festival organizers and
  • aid collaborative efforts in areas such as event planning, insurance, volunteer training and marketing to strengthen Toronto's network of festivals.
The City's Cultural Festivals Recovery Program in-kind partners include Re-Solved who donated software development services, as well as FORREC, BaAM Productions and the Leadership Emergency Arts Network, among others, who will provide advisory services to strengthen the planning capacity of third-party event organizers, particularly for health and safety, and to help festivals play a key role in the City's economic recovery.

More information about the City's Cultural Festivals Recovery Program is available at https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-economic-support-recovery-for-businesses/covid-19-business-sector-resources/?accordion=arts-and-culture-sector-support.

The City will not issue new permits until further direction on mass gatherings is provided by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. Potential future dates can only be determined once the public health crisis is contained and economic recovery efforts are underway.

Event organizers are encouraged to contact the relevant City permitting bodies, Toronto Police Service officers/liaisons or [email protected].

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check https://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.

Quote:

"It is with deep regret that we are forced to extend the cancellation of large festivals to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. Special events and festivals are critical to the livability, vitality and economic success of Toronto, and that is why we are launching the Cultural Festivals Recovery Program to ensure that when we defeat COVID-19, these festivals can return safely and contribute to Toronto's economic recovery." - Mayor John Tory

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