The CNE has quietly cancelled its annual Youth Day after six years, CityNews has learned.
The decision comes after an incident forced the CNE to shut down the midway early during last year’s Youth Day amid reports of rowdy crowds and multiple fights breaking out on the fair grounds. The yearly event allowed patrons under 19 years of age to enter the park at a discounted rate.
No official announcement was made about the cancellation, but the special date was notably missing from the CNE’s events calendar. CNE CEO Virginia Lundy confirmed to CityNews that last year’s incident was a factor in their decision to discontinue the event.
“It’s unfortunate that a few ruined it for many, but we just felt that was the right decision in order to ensure the safety and security for everybody,” says Lundy.
Last August, three people were arrested – two 16 year olds and a 17 year old – after police were forced to use pepper spray to disperse the rowdy crowds.
A 16-year-old girl was charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer, a 16-year-old boy was charged with assaulting a police officer and failing to comply with recognizance, and a 17-year-old boy was charged with possession.
But some youth advocates are criticizing the decision to cancel the event outright, saying it’s unfair to the thousands who rely on special promotions like Youth Day to access The Ex.
“When this happened last year, a lot of different youth leaders and community advocates came out and said ‘let’s work together and look at how we can avoid this happening again’,” says Kevin Vuong, former co-chair of Toronto’s Youth Equity Strategy.
Vuong beleives the $19 admission for those over 14 years old is prohibitive to many families, and has suggested spreading Youth Day to multiple days over the two-week stretch to avoid large crowds from convening at once.
“As a city, we pride ourselves on being inclusive,” he says. “Now, the CNE – a tradition of Toronto – is not inclusive because not everyone can afford it.”
The CNE’s CEO says there are other ways families can visit The Ex at discounted rates, pointing to their Monday to Thursday special after 5 p.m.