On September 24, Toronto City Council will consider proposed changes to the governance of public squares. The proposed changes will create undue hardship for non-profits and small festivals, and change Toronto’s profile from diverse and creative to a commercial public face.
There are two items that are of particular concern:
1. It is proposed that public squares be opened to commercial activities. Currently no commercial activities are allowed in public spaces, which in Toronto may be the only areas outside of home that are completely free of commercial activity. Activities currently held in public spaces focus on the theme of the events rather than selling something. More importantly, small festivals and non-profit events will not be able to compete with commercial ventures that have access to almost unlimited funds to apply for and promote their marketing idea.
2. An extra base cost for using public squares is being proposed. Small festivals and non-profits have always paid for support services such as waste management, security, permits and AV if required. The additional fee, which could be as much as $10,000, will immediately make it impossible for most non-commercial events to use public space, thus eliminating many exciting and diverse events from Toronto’s landscape.
We request that Toronto City Council consider the major negative impact on Toronto these changes will bring and refuse to endorse this proposal.