Toronto

Free admission to various attractions, cancelled Queen's Park party prompt mixed feelings on Canada Day

Torontonians had mixed feelings as they went about their Canada Day celebrations Monday after Premier Doug Ford's decision to cancel the annual party on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature, while offering free admission to 10 attractions across the province.

Ford government says Queen’s Park festivities were scrapped to cut costs

The Doug Ford government has faced a backlash over its decision to scrap festivities usually held on the front lawn of Queen's Park on Canada Day. (CBC)

Torontonians had mixed feelings as they went about their Canada Day celebrations Monday after Premier Doug Ford's decision to cancel the annual party on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature, while offering free admission to 10 attractions across the province.

Free Canada Day admission was offered to the first 500 people at Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum as well as a number of others across province.

But while many said they welcomed the free admission, some also questioned the wisdom of Ford's decision to axe the traditional celebration.

"It's nice to get in for free but I'm not sure it's the right solution . . . 500 is a lot but not for a city as big as Toronto," Catherine Vanzyl told CBC News while in line at the ROM on Monday.

"I get what he's saying. He wanted government workers to enjoy Canada Day too, but it would have been nice to have a province-wide party also."

This toddler was among hundreds of people who turned out for the 'people's picnic' on the grounds of Queen's Park on Monday, July 1. (CBC)

Ford's government said the Queen's Park festivities, which began several years ago, were scrapped to cut costs.

Government officials said this year's plan to offer free admission cost an estimated $80,000, compared to the $400,000 or higher to run the traditional Canada Day party at Queen's Park.

Jerry Jiang says while he likes going to the ROM, he doesn't "think it's quite correct" that the premier should cancel the festivities.

"Canada Day is something that really I think that everyone should get an opportunity to participate in," Jiang told CBC News.

Jerry Jiang, (left), likes going to the ROM, but he doesn’t think cancelling Canada Day festivities at Queen's Park was a good decision. (CBC)

Meanwhile, Brander Ralston — who was among more than 1,000 people in line for the 500 free tickets to the ROM — says he wouldn't normally show up so early in the morning.

"But I think it's a pretty neat and interesting thing to do for Canada Day, letting 500 people in," he said.

"If they let 500 people in everyday, I'd come early. I haven't gone to the festivities at Queen's Park but I'm sure for the people that normally go, it kind of sucks for them. I don't know if there's good justification for all of it," Ralston added.

Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter organized the 'people's picnic,' a scaled-down version of the usual Canada Day festivities at Queen's Park. (CBC)

For people who were hit by the sudden and unexpected news of the cancellation of the Canada Day party at Queen's Park, the Ontario Liberal Party offered an alternative event, which it dubbed a "people's picnic," on the grounds of Queen's Park.

Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter described the event as a scaled-down version of the usual Canada Day festivities.

"When I heard that it was cancelled I said 'No, we had to do something about it.' My team and I we pulled this off in four days and it's a wonderful celebration because it's all about the people," Hunter told CBC Toronto at the picnic on Monday.

"Not everybody has a cottage to go to today. There are lots of people who are looking for things to do and they want to come down to Queen's Park and enjoy the day and we can see that by the turnout today."

Mayor John Tory dropped by various Canada Day events across the city on Monday. He said he had 'fun' at all of the events. (CBC)

Susan Fletcher was among the volunteers at the picnic.

"I think that it's wonderful that somebody stepped up to create a community event like this. Yes, it's smaller but they only had two weeks to plan so I'm amazed that it's fabulous as it is," Fletcher told CBC Toronto.

Mayor John Tory was out and about as well, stopping at various Canada Day events across the city.

"We are this incredibly diverse, interesting, fun group of people," he said ahead of the East York Canada Day parade.

"I'm just happy to be right across the city today going to all kinds of different events. I do have fun at these events, they are great."

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer cooked ribs at the Toronto Ribfest, held in Etobicoke's Centennial Park. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Ford both made appearances at Toronto Ribfest, held in Etobicoke's Centennial Park.

Scheer called it "a fantastic event," which he would not miss.

He said he met people from across Canada at the event, adding that "there is really no wrong way to celebrate Canada Day. It's a great day to celebrate all that has made our country the best place on earth."