Save the Toronto Freedom Festival
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“A person’s choice may not be the same as ours but their freedom to choose, express and assemble should be.” — TFF Founders
The 5th annual Toronto Freedom Festival (TFF) was scheduled for Saturday May 7th. It is Toronto’s largest FREE one-day outdoor spring festival. Recently they learned their permit for Queen’s Park North was being revoked by East York District Parks, coming just a few months before scheduled festivities. For months TFF organizers requested face-to-face meetings to discuss their concerns and plans for improving and safely expanding TFF in 2011. During the process organizers were never alerted that their permit was being revoked or in jeopardy. TFF supporters worldwide feel like the City of Toronto is once again infringing on people's rights at Queen’s Park North.
Since its inception, the festival has focused on the preservation of the Freedoms protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Celebrations have always been peaceful without an arrest in its history, and generates an estimated positive economic impact of 3.5 million dollars to the Toronto economy.
TFF Organizer Gabe Simms says, “Several valid complaints were made last year; however we had solutions prepared to address each element of concern. The GMM has to continue with limited support and the City’s concerns may be heightened without TFF’s essential event infrastructure. This consists of hundreds of park marshals, volunteers, washrooms, food vendors, professional cleaners & security.”
The 13th Global Marijuana March (GMM) will attract over 20,000 once again this year on May 7th with or without TFF’s infrastructural support. Ron Marzel, the lawyer for the GMM, advised that he is puzzled by the City's decision. "Doesn't the City realize that tens of thousands of people are going to assemble and protest regardless? Why the City would wish to eliminate their partner in maintaining infrastructure and keeping order at this protest makes no sense to me."
TFF Organizer Gavin Gerbz says, “My partners and I feel optimistic that a solution can be reached with The City of Toronto Parks and/or The Mayor’s office. After all, a person’s choice may not be the same as yours or mine, however in Canada their freedom to choose, express, assemble and peacefully protest at Queen’s Park should be protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Toronto Freedom Festival Board of Directors