Urgent government action required to Save Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village

Earlier this month, the Riverdale and Rotators Curling Leagues sent the following letters to all levels of government urging rapid assistance to protect the vulnerable small businesses in the Village, several of which have provided significant support to our curling leagues over many years.

We urge our members and friends to contact their local federal MP, provincial MPP, and Toronto City Councillor to help this cause. Feel free to use these letters as a basis for your own letter (no stamp is required to send mail to federal MPs), a customized email, or a phone call (which could have the greatest impact!).


Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and MP Bill Morneau

To: “justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca” <justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca>,
Bill.Morneau@parl.gc.ca” <Bill.Morneau@parl.gc.ca>

To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister Bill Morneau – 

We are writing, as the world’s oldest and largest gay curling leagues, to call on the federal government to take immediate action to support small LGBTQ+ businesses, particularly bars and restaurants, in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village. These spaces are necessary for our members to gather in a safe and inclusive atmosphere, and their loss would be not only a loss for the LGBTQ+ communities, but for the entire country.

Small business owners in the Village have identified several shortcomings of the federal government’s approach to supporting businesses through COVID-19. These shortcomings put the future of Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Village in question and will certainly hobble the coming economic recovery as small businesses are needed to lead any recovery. This is especially true for small LGBTQ+ businesses that rely on revenues from now-cancelled Pride events. 

The federal government can take immediate action to support small LGBTQ+ businesses in Toronto and across the country by:

  1. Fixing the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program so that support goes to tenants who own small businesses, not landlords who have repeatedly indicated no interest in supporting small businesses.
  2. Mandating credit cards, banks and credit unions to provide interest relief to small and medium sized businesses so they are able to survive and reopen without taking on unreasonable amounts of debt.

We are also calling on other levels of government to take actions within their jurisdiction that will save small LGBTQ+ businesses.

The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister have both marched in the Toronto Pride Parade for many years. Justin Trudeau is the first sitting Prime Minister ever to march in a Pride Parade. But it is time to move beyond symbolic support for the LGBTQ+ community and demonstrate financial support during this crisis. 

The time for action has already arrived. Small LGBTQ+ businesses cannot wait any longer for relief. Please take the steps outlined above before it’s too late.

Thank you,

Darren Sutherland
President, Riverdale Curling League

Murray Leaning
President, Rotators Curling League

http://toronto.gaycurl.ca/


Letter to Premier Doug Ford and MPP Suze Morrison

To: “doug.ford@pc.ola.org” <doug.ford@pc.ola.org>,
SMorrison-QP@ndp.on.ca” <SMorrison-QP@ndp.on.ca>, “premier@ontario.ca
<premier@ontario.ca>

To Premier Doug Ford, Ms. Suze Morrison, MPP, 

We are writing, as the world’s oldest and largest gay curling leagues, to call on the provincial government to take immediate action to support small LGBTQ+ businesses, particularly bars and restaurants, in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village. These spaces are necessary for our members to gather in a safe and inclusive atmosphere, and their loss would be not only a loss for the LGBTQ+ communities, but for the entire province.

Small business owners in the Village and business organizations like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association have identified several shortcomings of the provincial government’s approach to supporting businesses through COVID-19. These shortcomings put the future of Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Village in question and will certainly hobble the coming economic recovery as small businesses are needed to lead any recovery. This is especially true for small LGBTQ+ businesses that rely on revenues from now-cancelled Pride events. 

The provincial government can take immediate action to support small LGBTQ+ businesses in Toronto and across the province by:

  1. Declaring an immediate moratorium on commercial evictions to encourage wealthy landlords to access rent support programs rather than abandon their commercial tenants.
  2. Creating support programs for small businesses that provide financial aid through grants, not simply debt deferral, to ensure that small businesses are able to get back on their feet during the recovery period.

We are also calling on other levels of government to take actions within their jurisdiction that will save small LGBTQ+ businesses.

Your government has often celebrated the importance of small businesses to the economy and the community, but the lack of action from the provincial government has left small business owners at risk of losing everything, and left the LGBTQ+ community at risk of losing a safe and vibrant neighbourhood that in normal times welcomes thousands of visitors from across the province, country and world each year.

The time for action has already arrived. Small LGBTQ+ businesses cannot wait any longer for relief. Please take the steps outlined above before it’s too late.

Thank you,

Darren Sutherland
President, Riverdale Curling League

Murray Leaning
President, Rotators Curling League

htttp://toronto.gaycurl.ca/


Letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory and Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

To: “mayor_tory@toronto.ca” <mayor_tory@toronto.ca>, “councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca” <councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca>

To Mayor John Tory, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam – 

We are writing, as the world’s oldest and largest gay curling leagues, to call on the City of Toronto to take immediate action to support small LGBTQ+ businesses, particularly bars and restaurants, in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village. These spaces are necessary for our members to gather in a safe and inclusive atmosphere, and their loss would be not only a loss for the LGBTQ+ communities, but for the entire city.

Small business owners in the Village and business organizations like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association have identified several ways that the city government’s can support businesses through COVID-19 and beyond, especially considering the enormous expected loss of revenue from the cancellation of Pride. Without these supports, the future of Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Village is in question and the economic recovery will certainly be hobbled as small businesses are needed to lead any recovery. 

The City of Toronto can take immediate action to support small LGBTQ+ businesses in Toronto by:

  1. Pressuring the provincial government to declare an immediate moratorium on commercial evictions to encourage wealthy landlords to access rent support programs rather than abandon their commercial tenants.
  2. Adjusting commercial property taxes on properties housing small businesses to incentivize landlords to work with small business tenants rather than evict them.
  3. Working with all levels of government to create support programs for small LGBTQ+  businesses that provide financial aid through grants, not simply debt deferral, to ensure that small LGBTQ+ businesses are able to get back on their feet during the recovery period, similar to the program to support queer-owned local businesses and venues in London, UK.

We are also calling on other levels of government to take actions within their jurisdiction that will save small LGBTQ+ businesses.

The city often celebrates the importance of small businesses to the economy and the importance of LGBTQ+ communities to the city, but the lack of direct action leaves small LGBTQ+ business owners at risk of losing everything, and leaves the LGBTQ+ community at risk of losing a safe and vibrant neighbourhood that in normal times welcomes thousands of visitors to the city each year.

The time for action has already arrived. Small LGBTQ+ businesses cannot wait any longer for relief. Please take the steps outlined above before it’s too late.

Thank you,

Darren Sutherland
President, Riverdale Curling League

Murray Leaning
President, Rotators Curling League

toronto.gaycurl.ca