People worried about the future of Toronto's clothing-optional Hanlan's Point Beach
Hanlan's Point Beach has served as a gathering place for the city's 2SLGBTQ+ community for decades, but people are worried that the safe haven will soon be compromised to make way for a festival venue.
The City has been consulting the public for over two years regarding its Toronto Island Park Master Plan, with many criticizing the proposal's impact on the city's queer community.
According to the plan, the area has faced pressures, including increased demand, aging infrastructure and flooding in recent years.
The multi-year vision aims to address these issues, with a long-term planning document that is being co-created with Indigenous rights holders, local communities, and the public.
The plan's proposal for a permanent festival venue at Hanlan's Point is being criticized by many in Toronto, some of whom have formed an Instagram account called Hands off Hanlan's.
Travis Myers, who is one of the people behind the page, told CityNews that after sorting through several community consultation summaries, it was clear that the overwhelming majority of queer people who contributed to the consultations were opposed to the festival venue.
At the most recent open house on November 30, multiple participants raised concerns that the event space could eventually lead to conflicts and potential homophobic attacks if event goers are not aware that they're entering a clothing optional and queer space.
In response to the concerns, City Councillors Ausma Malik and Chris Moise drafted a letter that acknowledged Hanlan's Point as a "safe, public and precious place that has deep meaning and connection to Toronto's 2SLGBTQ+ community."
Our Statement on Hanlan's Point and the Toronto Island Park Master Plan pic.twitter.com/yyHQR9g3wt— ausma malik (@ausmalik) February 18, 2023
The letter states that the plan is not yet finalized, and there are opportunities to improve the outcome of the vision.
"We have had conversations with City staff, who have assured us that a built concert space is not part of the Master Plan but we need clarification on what is meant by festival space that is referenced in current documents and whether it reflects community feedback," the letter continues.
"As local City Councillors, we wish to see Hanlan's Point celebrated and preserved as the safe, public, accessible, vibrant, and queer-friendly space it has been for many generations."
A virtual public meeting specifically about Hanlan's Event Space will be hosted on Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
An additional Hanlan's Point Beach community workshop will be held on Monday to discuss proposals for improving the beach from the draft plan. Tickets to the in-person workshop have already sold out.
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