Proponents of legalizing marijuana are fuming over the city’s refusal to allow them to celebrate in a Toronto park after their annual pot parade.
“I’ve very upset. We’ve been debating this stuff online for days. We’re talking about 40,000 people that want to advocate on their point of view,” says Chris Goodwin, who heads up the Hash Mob.
The group will take part in the Global Marijuana March, scheduled for May 7 in Toronto.
In past years, participants gathered after the parade at Queen’s Park for the Freedom Festival. This year, organizers had lined up 100 musicians, artists and speakers as well as food and product vendors.
“Instead of peacefully marching, we might try to sit-in at Yorkville,” said Goodwin. “There has to be some push back on our part.”
Organizers were told in January that the festival had outgrown the park on the north side of the Legislature.
“The park was damaged and overwhelmed. There were people hurt. There was broken glass, bottles being thrown,” Richard Ubbens, the city’s parks director, said of last year’s event. “There were lots of different issues. And illegal substance abuse.”
The group started talks with the parks division that oversees Toronto Island, but were told last week the event couldn’t be held there.
“We’re not trying to shut it down,” said Ubbens. “This is a huge crowd. They would have to have much better control over persons using the venue.”
But organizers say they were in talks with the city last October and it shouldn’t have taken the parks department this long to get back to them.
The event is planned a year in advance and “it was irresponsible for us not to notify our vendors and suppliers. It’s bigger than just us.” said the festival’s Gabriel Simms.
The march — up University Ave., across Bloor St., down Yonge St. and back to the park via Wellesley St. — will go ahead as planned. Simms is still working with the city and hopes they will find another venue.
March 04, 2011
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