Ward 28 candidates question Rye ban from Toronto Island; reason still unclear

Coun. Pam McConnell said her office supports banning Ryerson's Parade and Picnic from Toronto Island.

Coun. Pam McConnell’s office said the councillor supports banning Ryerson’s Parade and Picnic from Toronto Island. (pammcconnell.ca)

Candidates running against Coun. Pam McConnell are questioning the ban of a Ryerson event from part of her ward — a ban McConnell’s office says she supports.

Sammy Shaltout, a Ward 28 candidate in the Oct. 27 municipal election, told The Ryersonian he does not think Toronto Island should be closed off to the annual Parade and Picnic.

“People should be able to go to the island, the island doesn’t belong to a councillor,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “If I am elected, I will change that. I’m with (Ryerson) 100 per cent.”

It is yet unclear how or why the event — which has been held on the island for more than 50 years — has come to be banned.

McConnell’s office is tight-lipped, saying only in a brief statement, “The councilor supports the parks managers’ decision to not permit this event in the future.”

The city’s parks department could not be immediately reached for confirmation. A supervisor reached in an earlier interview said only that there were 12 noise complaints during the event on Sept. 5, a Friday.

David Blackmore, another candidate for Ward 28, said that even if the ban has merit, there needs to be due process.

“The island is a public space,” he said. “Festival and parades are important, especially for young people.

“If it’s based on noise complaints, I don’t believe that everyone should be punished…If it was individuals, we should deal with them as individuals.”

The event took place at Hanlan’s Point Beach, which borders the nearby airport and is in a relatively uninhabited area.

Police said there were no reports regarding the concert. Ferry services said there were no complaints.

An island resident for 55 years, Colin Brodie, said: “Whatever was going on down there, I couldn’t hear anything. We get party boats that make more noise than that.”

But the timing of the Ryerson’s concert may have caused concern.

Jim Turel, head captain at the Queen City Yacht Club on the island, said Ryerson’s event came right after Electric Islands, an all-day electronic dance music show.

“That’s the last time you really see many young folk on the island. You don’t really see a lot of kids after that.

“For a Friday, 12 complaints sounds like a lot. That’s 12 different households, which to me is a full street. You’ve got almost a full street complaining.”

He added: “(They) would have probably complained about Electric Island, but then, having another event not too long after probably put them over the edge.”

The Electric Islands concert goes until 10:30 p.m. It was held on Sept 1, just four days before Ryerson’s concert.

Ryerson Students’ Union president Rajean Hoilett said the union is aware of only one complaint regarding the noise.

“We heard it during our meeting with the university — that it was one complaint from a resident,” he said.

The RSU has held the event on the island for 51 years until 2012, when the event was moved to the newly built Mattamy Athletic Centre.

The Parade and Picnic was held at the MAC in 2013 as well, but returned to the island this year for what turned out to be the final time.

Ryerson’s administration could not be immediately reached.

By Zachary Dodds, Daisy Badu, Sam Colbert and Gina Wicentowich

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