Toronto cancels all major summer events, including the CNE

All in-person city-run and city-permitted events are cancelled through Labour Day


Toronto has cancelled the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), Caribbean Carnival and many other major summer events again this year due to COVID-19.

In a statement on Friday morning, city officials said all in-person city-led and city-permitted outdoor events are cancelled through Labour Day on September 6.

The city previously cancelled all major events, including Pride and Canada Day through July 1.

“The City understands the importance of these events to Toronto’s vitality, liveability and prosperity,” reads a press release. “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.”

Other impacted events include Beaches Jazz Festival, Taste of the Danforth, the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Afrofest and the Honda Indy.

Officials said major events are a higher public health risks due to limited ability to physical distance and people coming into the city from other areas. Large events also require months of preparation, so the advance notice gives organizers the ability to access insurance and avoid incurring unnecessary costs.

Last year, CNE officials said the cancellation left the event with a $6 million loss. The fair is run by a non-profit organization off revenue generated from the previous year’s event.

The 18-day event was scheduled to take place from August 20 to September 6.

Following the cancellation news, CNE officials called on the provincial and federal governments to provide COVID-relief funding.

“While we understand the importance for public health authorities to take necessary measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are also conscious of the impact the cancellation of the CNE will have for its attendees, vendors and the many youth employed for the event,” John Kiru, president of the CNE’s board of directors, said in a statement.

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

Mayor John Tory tweeted on Friday that Toronto would “once again step forward to support the CNE.

“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,” he added.

City Councillor Mike Layton has shared a petition urging the province and the federal government to give $5.5 million each to help the CNE survive.

“Despite 2 years of cancelled fairs, only the City of Toronto has provided meaningful support to the not for profit that runs the fair,” he said. “Without support from the province and national government – the fair will close permanently.”

Here’s a list of the cancelled events:

  • 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

@nowtoronto

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One response to “Toronto cancels all major summer events, including the CNE”

  1. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that, with the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada each coming up with $5.5 million for a total of $11 million, the CNE will survive until 2022 and return to an in-person event for that year. The annual fair is a major contributor to the local economy and an important part of our (Toronto’s and Canada’s) heritage.
    By that time, the pandemic would most likely be behind us – we’ve no doubt suffered enough – in terms of lockdowns, restrictions, lives lost, isolation – it would be time to come out and celebrate.

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