The City of Toronto is cancelling all in-person Canada Day events in light of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it will attempt to celebrate the nation’s birthday on July 1 virtually instead.
“It falls upon me to share the sad but sensible news about Canada Day in Toronto in 2020. Based on the recommendation of our Medical Officer of Health, the city will be promoting participation in national virtual Canada Day celebrations,” said Mayor John Tory.
The City says the following events will not take place.
• Fireworks at Ashbridge’s Bay, Centennial Park, Milliken Park, Stan Wadlow Park and Weston Lions Park
• Canada Day celebrations on Mel Lastman Square
• Scarborough’s annual Canada Day event
• Centennial Park Canada Day Celebration
• East York Canada Day parade and festival.
Instead, the city said it will collaborate with partners like Harbourfront Centre, TOLive and the CN Tower to celebrate and honour frontline workers online.
“Believe me, I am as disappointed as you are about the cancellation of these events,” said Tory. “I would like nothing more than to tell you that we can celebrate the birthday of our great country as we usually do with friends and family in many of the usual places but we just can’t this year out of caution and out of an overriding concern for public health.”
Tory says even though Torontonians won’t be able to gather together, they can still celebrate July 1 by decorating their porches, balconies and front doors with Canadian flags.
“There are ways in which we can show our love for our country this year when we won’t be able to be together as much. Wherever people are in this city I would love to see them with Canadian flags, everywhere, celebrating our united effort as a country to confront and defeat COVID-19.”
Tory said the City would provide updates on the virtual celebrations as they become available.
The Canada Day celebrations mark the first time the city has cancelled a large public event beyond the end of June, which is sparking questions about the fate of summer camps for kids in the city.
“I can’t tell you yet about the summer camps,” said Tory, noting that much of the planning will be determined by the situation the city finds itself in when it comes to the coronavirus.
“Kids are kids and if you’re going to try and explain to them the context of physical distancing, good luck in some cases. So it might mean there will be a way to do a camp with fewer kids or with more staff or some other kind of model. We’re exploring that, always trying to make sure we don’t have to cancel the camps unless we have to.”