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Toronto’s 519 raises record $500,000 over Pride weekend

More than 40,000 people attended annual Green Space Festival

The 519’s 2016 Green Space Festival, held over the final weekend of Pride, raised over $500,000 from over 40,000 attendees. Credit: Nick Lachance/Daily Xtra

A year after a rainstorm put a damper on The 519’s fundraising efforts, Toronto’s LGBT-focused community centre brought in its biggest haul ever.

The annual Green Space Festival, which was held over the final weekend of Pride weekend, raised over $500,000 from the over 40,000 people who attended.

In 2015, rain kept away many people from the outdoor event, leading to a $125,000 shortfall. The gap was eventually made up for in additional fundraising done in the fall.

“After last year’s disappointing return, we could not have hoped or wanted a more amazing return that we got this year,” says John Farrell, director of philanthropy for The 519.

Farrell says that The 519 put together contingency plans in case the weather worked against them, but it wasn’t needed in the end.

“The weather was definitely on our side and there’s no doubt that the amazing weather that we had during those four days, very much contributed to the environment,” he says.

The funds will go directly towards programming run by The 519, including support for queer and trans seniors, LGBT families, trans Torontonians and LGBT refugees and immigrants.

According to Farrell, The 519 raised more than they had anticipated this year and so the community centre’s board will be looking over the next month at ways to allocate that money. However, he emphasized that certain programs are still in need of more funding.

“There’s no shortage of program areas that are in need of significant investment based on the needs that are there,” he says.

The Green Space Festival takes place over four days and came together due to the work of over 300 volunteers. This was the eighth year that The 519 put on the festival.

“We remain entirely grateful to our communities for coming out and supporting us,” says Farrell. “We couldn’t be more thrilled by how supportive they were this year and we just wanted to extend a big thank you.”