The popular Pride Sunday outdoor party at the 519 Church Street Community Centre is moving to a much larger space — the Ryerson University quadrangle.
Organizers of the Green Space party series will keep Cawthra Park open Pride Sunday for a disco party while the popular TreeHouse Party carries on a few blocks south.
This year marks the fifth edition of the Green Space parties. Pascal Dessureault, The 519’s board chair, says they are doubling their capacity to 5,000 people for the Sunday TreeHouse Party. “We have outgrown our space at The 519. [Moving to Ryerson] will allow us to throw a bigger event.”
Increasingly long lineups have caused frustration for partygoers at Cawthra Park and at the bars, he says. “We want to ensure our events are as accessible as possible. We are so glad of the popularity of those events.”
The outdoor Pride weekend parties are the largest fundraiser of the year for The 519, Dessureault says. Last year, more than $250,000 was raised, which is used for The 519’s programs and services, he says. “That money has a year-round impact on The 519. And it goes directly to community programming.”
The Green Space parties are completely separate from Pride Toronto (PT). Organizer Mathieu Chantelois says The 519 initially tried to join forces with PT, but an agreement could not be reached. He expressed frustration that potential partners at PT and the Church Wellesley Village BIA have spurned his requests for cooperation.
“We have different visions for the street and how to occupy the street,” Dessureault says. “Overall, we see ourselves as a complementary event.”
However, PT executive director Kevin Beaulieu says no representative from The 519, or any other organization, approached PT about partnering for the Green Space parties.
Beaulieu says he’s checked with PT staff, who deny that any request for cooperation was put forward. “It may have been [something we were open to],” he says. “But we weren’t approached with a proposal.”
“We are very supportive of The 519. They do wonderful work all through the year, and we know this is a significant fundraising source for them, and we are very supportive of that.”
An official launch for the event is planned for Tuesday, April 9 at 5:30pm at The 519, Dessureault says.