block party toronto

Is summer 2015 the year of the block party in Toronto?

A slew of Facebook pages promising street parties in locations all over Toronto are causing wide eyes and furrowed brows at the city. So far more than 50,000 people have RSVPd to the events online, and while that certainly doesn't mean that number will attend, the numbers are enough to be potentially troubling, especially as most don't seem to have applied for permission.

Obtaining a permit to host an event in one of Toronto's public spaces brings with it insurance, security in the form of paid duty police officers, a liquor license, and permission from the city to close streets, among other things.

Take the Yonge-Dundas Square water gun fight that has so far garnered a whopping 10,000 online RSVPs. Natalie Belman, the square's events manager, says no-one has approached her office for a permit.

"We haven't received an application from the organizers and I look forward to them getting in touch with me," Belman says. "It's within their constitutional right to congregate on the square, but we do permit events, so if they were to show up and there was already an event on the square we wouldn't allow it."

Belman says a permit starts at $3,570, plus the cost of security, insurance, and other expenses related to safely managing an event. Besides, even with minimal technical setup the capacity of the square tops out at 4,500 people.

"We can't possibly fit 10,000 people in the square, it's just not possible."

A street party planned for the square outside Union Station is likewise a mystery. "We do not know anything about this party," said Syma Shah, Union Station's programming and special events director, in an email. The posting on Facebook promises "the most epic block party of the summer."

Events are also being planned at Trinity-Bellwoods Park, where 19,000 have said they will attend, Woodbine Beach (21,000 RSVPs,) and Cherry Beach.

Watch this space, I guess.

Note: An earlier version of this post stated that a $3,750 permit to rent Yonge-Dundas Square includes security and insurance. In fact, those cost extra.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman. Photo by Riff Raff of the Mad Decent Block Party in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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