TORONTO — Sunday’s shooting in Toronto’s Greektown, which saw two people killed and 13 others wounded, will not derail plans for this year’s Taste of the Danforth festival — which takes place Aug. 10 to 12 — organizers say.
“The community is strong and resilient; we’re not going to allow a single event to define a street,” says Howard Lichtman, Taste of the Danforth spokesman. “People were out there [on Monday], so the festival will be the same. Everything will continue as planned. We’ve met with the police and will continue to meet with them over the next few days. We will work with the police to make sure there is appropriate security, just like we’ve always done.”
Lichtman’s comments come after a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman, Reese Fallon, were killed, in Sunday’s shootings on Danforth Avenue. The tragic event’s 13 surviving victims are between the ages of 17 and 59, according to CP24, and their injuries range from minor to serious.
Police say 29-year-old Faisal Hussain fired several shots at groups of people at restaurants on Danforth Ave. at around 10 p.m. on July 22, according to CBC News.
Lichtman says Toronto Mayor John Tory was on Danforth Ave. last night to speak with Constantine Voidonicolas, chairman of the Greektown on the Danforth BIA, and other business owners about safety concerns ahead of the festival and the need for gun control overall.
“This kind of event is aimed at everyone,” says Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA). “We all need to have responsibility in how we move forward. Toronto is still a safe city compared to the others. We all, including the restaurant sector, have to be involved with gun control and especially safety in the nighttime.”
Organizers of the Taste of the Danforth festival say they expect millions of visitors during the three-day event. Robert Carter, executive director with the NPD Group, says he expects Torontonians to remain resilient and business owners to do the same.
“This type of violence is an isolated incident and certainly not reflective of the fantastic Toronto restaurant environment,” Carter says. “Torontonians will come out in full force to show that they support these types of important Toronto festivals and show that these types of isolated situations won’t deter people from enjoying the fantastic city that Toronto is.”
For now, Lichtman says the Greektown BIA and community residents are planning a candlelight vigil on July 25 to honour the deceased and acknowledge the victims. A group of community residents and Torontonians will walk along Danforth Ave., from Ferrier Ave. to Bowden St. The group will then head east towards Logan Avenue before a memorial service at Alexander the Great Parkette.