Earlier this week, the Church Wellesley Village BIA announced it will be closing parts of the Village to traffic and hosting a “neighbourhood block party” as part of WorldPride 2014. From Friday, June 20 through Sunday, June 22, Church Street will be closed from Wood to Gloucester, with bars and restaurants offering extended patios on the street.
The northwest corner of Church and Maitland will feature a stage hosting drag queens, DJs and other local performers throughout the weekend. Individual establishments are booking the talent, so attendees can expect appearances by many of the regular Church Street fixtures.
Though WorldPride is arranging the traditional Pride weekend in the Village, there was nothing planned for the weekend before, and the BIA saw an opportunity to promote the neighbourhood in a different way.
“I don’t think a lot of people have a chance to experience the real Church Street on the regular Pride weekend, when there are so many people,” says BIA general manager Mychol Scully. “We felt it was important to showcase the Village neighbourhood itself, which is why we’re presenting it as a neighbourhood block party. It’s a chance for people to see the Village au naturel and offer a neighbourhood version of Pride that acknowledges its roots at LGBT ground zero.”
For Torontonians who’ve summered in Montreal, the measure feels a bit overdue. La Belle Ville has been closing their Village to traffic the entire summer for nearly a decade, creating both a tourism hotspot and a cruising zone par excellence. Three days is a baby step for Toronto. But is it possible we might one day see a summer-long closure?
“I love the idea, and I’m very fond of how Montreal manages its Village during the summer,” Scully says. “That said, this has been quite an undertaking. The impacts it has on traffic and dealing with security issues aren’t trivial. We’ll be doing a post-mortem, which will give us a better idea of how well the event functioned and what if any changes we can make in the future.”