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City denies Afrofest an event permit. Is this a sign of things for the first Summer of Ford, or no big deal?

Afrofesters rest at the foot of George VI in Queen’s Park in 2009 (Image: Anthony Easton)

For more than 20 years, Toronto has hosted Afrofest at Queen’s Park. This year, however, just as the festival was booking its vendors and acts for the upcoming event, the City of Toronto has rejected its event permit. Is this a sign of a crackdown on fun by Mayor Rob Ford, whose love of all things multicultural is legend?  Probably not, according to, the Toronto Sun.

Also refused a special event permit by city hall is the Toronto Freedom Festival, which was slated for May, also on the north lawn of Queen’s Park.

Disappointed Afrofest organizers said the city’s park, forestry and recreations department refused to issue them a permit for the two-day event in July that is a highlight for the African community in Toronto.

“This is the most significant event every year,” said festival president Michael Stohr. “People are shocked and stunned by what is happening […] I think Afrofest as we know it is gone,” he said on Monday. “I think the festival would be set back 20 years if we moved to another venue.”

So it’s not just Afrofest that’s being denied a permit, and the Sun notes that there’s some cause here. According to city staff, Afrofesters left a minor disaster area around the provincial legislature in previous years. Nevertheless, we think it would probably be best for the Toronto Sun to avoid referring to Africa as “the Dark Continent” (as they did in this story) on the same day that Justin Trudeau gets in hot water for his own linguistic problems.

Meanwhile, Freedom Festival (which holds a marijuana march) also got its event permit killed. It may not be Rob Ford’s fault, but the war on fun continues.

• City denies Afrofest an event permit [Toronto Sun]

  • Jeremy

    A “sign of things for the first summer of Ford”???

    Like you noted from the Sun…”complaints included issues related to noise, parking, damage to turf, excessive garbage and failure to clean up.”

    The event itself brings in money and tourists, but it also costs a lot to clean up after.

    No one ever said that the event cannot be held…just not where the organizers had originally planned.

    This is a non-issue. Permits get a approved and turned down all the time. Why is this news and why does it have to have an anti-Ford spin? Last I checked, Rob Ford does not personally review every request for a permit. I’m sure he has more important things to do than to decide where some people are allowed to have their party. Seriously people…this Ford-envy needs to stop.

  • Nix

    This is news because Afro Fest has been held in Queens Park for over 20 years and it’s a sad to see it go. It’s a major event for a lot of people who enjoy the music, food, art and good vibes of this two day African event.

  • Peter Mykusz
    You can embed this HD video of the Canadian debut of Dizu Plaatjies and Ibuyambo from South Africa. It was a great performance and shows what will be missed. The location is ideal because it’s easy to get to for most people.