Ask Your Candidate: Tourism and Festivals

By: Lauryn Kronick

Toronto is known as a city of festivals. Whether it’s TIFF and Pride attracting tourists from all over the world or neighbourhood celebrations such as Dundas West Fest and Taste of the Danforth that unite residents and curious locals, there is a festival that caters to most Torontonians each weekend when the weather is on our side (or, ticks us off with the many street closures throughout the year). The following questions will help you figure out if the candidates in your ward support their neighbourhood’s and the city’s festivals, and if tourism is on their agenda:

Where do your ward candidate’s priorities stand with neighbourhood festivals?

Every spring through fall, hundreds of neighbourhood festivals take over the streets, shut them down and bring a community to life. Roncesvalles Village Polish Festival, Albion’s Fusion of Taste, Kensington Market’s Pedestrian Sundays are just a few of the many community events that drive traffic to an area, build neighbourhood cohesion and also stimulate local economies. If your ward has an annual festivals, are the residents engaged in the programming and generally excited and supportive about the events? How are businesses being encouraged to participate? If there is currently no street party or neighbourhood festival, does your ward candidate want to make this happen? What is your ward candidate’s relationship with the area’s Business Improvement Association? Do they find closing off streets disruptive or welcome the idea of bringing people out to liven up their area?

How enthusiastic is your ward candidate about attracting tourists to your area? Does tourism play a big role in your ward candidate’s platform?

With the Pan Am Games quickly approaching in 2015, Toronto is gearing up for a large influx of tourists, which will likely mean another busy summer of road closures and transit woes but also a large economic impact, and neighbourhoods playing host to new faces on their sidewalks. Do your ward candidates have an interest in attracting tourists to your neighbourhood? If you live in a central area that has been affected by construction because of the Games or will be in the coming months, how will your ward candidates keep in touch with city planners, contractors and other parties to minimize the impact on businesses.

In the event that your ward candidates do not support the idea of building community through neighbourhood celebrations, these feelings shouldn’t hinder a festival that already exists or create a barrier to starting one on your street or in your area. If your candidate is on board with a project like this and is committed to promoting your neighbourhood to the rest of the city and beyond, it sounds like you have someone who is passionate about keeping your fellow residents engaged and excited about the community they live in.

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One thought on “Ask Your Candidate: Tourism and Festivals

  1. With respect to Tourism promotions but not necessarily festival events, Economic Development through tourism is dubious at best. Employment opportunities are largely in low paying jobs. Hotel maintenance, restaurant service staff, etc. Visitors to the city are not tax payers and have ittle to invest in quality of life aspects of the city. I believe that there is also some indication that cities that are popular with tourists may have elevated crime rates which raises policing costs. The verdict has yet to come in with regard to the Pan Am games; it should be noted that the Olympics always have economic and social costs for the centre holding the games that are much more than what is recovered through the actual event. At best there have been need improvements made to our Infrastructure which might have not been made without the incentive of the games and the soils in the portland have been remediated, a project that has been dragging on for more than two decades.
    I would prefer my elected representatives to be more concerned with economic plans that create good paying employment that is long lasting and build affordable accessible housing rather than hotels.
    Festival events that promote local artists to the local community and should be supported.

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