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CHATTER: No more funding for Annex Family Festival (Jan. 2018)

January 29th, 2018 · No Comments

The future of the Annex Family Festival is up in the air after most of its funds were cut by the Bloor Annex BIA at its annual general meeting on January 9. The organization’s board of directors presented the annual budget, which included funding for the festival, for approval by the general members.

Barry Alper from Fresh Restaurant moved from the floor to reduce the festival budget from $22,800 to $2,800 and was seconded by Miranda Black from Theodore 1922, a men’s clothing store. The motion passed 11 to six, effectively ending what’s been a Bloor Street tradition for 20 years.

Alper and Black argued that the money could be better spent on more research on the economic impact of the Bloor Street bike lanes, improving the design of the lanes themselves, and promoting local business.

“It seems a bit hasty to just pull the funds on the Annex Festival without a whole lot of research or response,” said board member Chris Cousineau, who represents Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop. “I would have thought maybe a more thorough investigation on whether or not to kill the festival would be prudent first.”

Member Eric Mills said he was perplexed by Alper’s motion.

“You say this to help redesign the bike lanes, but that consultation and design change is something the city is prepared to do for free and all this does is offset the city’s costs, at the expense of the businesses.”

Those who supported the motion said they did so because of low sales on the day of the festival.

Black explained that her store had always suffered on the day of the festival and now, as a result, she closes her shop during the festivities.

BIA chair Brian Burchell, who also publishes this newspaper, said that the point of the Family Festival is not to necessarily enhance same-day sales but make a broader audience more aware of the street.

“Merchant participation reached a record high last year, and as a result of a recent merchant survey it is not evident that our members oppose it,” he said.

The Annex Family Festival has run every June for 21 years as a cooperative effort between the Bloor Annex BIA and the Miles Nadal JCC.

Geremy Bordonaro/Gleaner News

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